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A welcome fall in accidents

This year’s accident statistics survey showed a drop in incidents among SELECT Members. Here, we highlight the key results of the survey – and show how they compare with figures published by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for the construction sector in Great Britain as a whole

Our annual survey is invaluable as the resulting statistics give us an insight into the numbers and primary causes of accidents experienced by Members. It also allows us to target initiatives to improve the health and safety performance of the electrotechnical industry in Scotland.

The SELECT statistics for 2016 indicated a welcome reduction in accidents. In this article, we have compared them to the HSE figures from the 12-month accident data periods from 1 April to 31 March, primarily derived from incidents reported under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR).

It should be noted that the figures for the reporting year 2015/16 are provisional at the time of going to press and will be finalised by HSE in July 2017 following any necessary adjustments.


It is pleasing to note that, for the sixth year in a row, no work-related fatal injuries were reported by SELECT Members.

HSE statistics indicate that there were 32 fatal injuries to workers in the ‘construction of buildings’ sector in Great Britain in 2014/15, which was the lowest on record.

Provisional data indicates a rise in such fatalities to 39 workers in 2015/16, comprising 23 employees and 16 self-employed workers.

Although these figures are still alarmingly high, the construction industry’s safety record has shown a marked improvement when one considers that 15 to 20 years ago around 100 fatalities per annum were occurring in the sector.

Non-fatal injury rates

When making comparisons, such as on a year-to-year basis or between sectors or regions, it is important to consider the ‘rate’ of injuries per unit of employees rather than simply the number of such injuries.

The standardised method used by the HSE (and across all EU states) calculates injury rates per 100,000 workers. The same methodology has therefore been utilised in comparing the results of the SELECT survey with those published by the HSE for the construction sector in Great Britain.

The overall rate of RIDDOR-reportable accidents based on SELECT Member returns for 2016 was the lowest since our annual surveys were introduced over a decade ago and has dropped to a third of that reported in 2007 and 2008.

The SELECT 2016 statistics indicated that the rate of ‘specified’ injuries had increased marginally from those identified from the 2014 and 2015 surveys. However, the rates of both ‘specified’ and ‘over-seven-day’ injuries were each 28% lower than those for employees in the construction sector in Britain based upon HSE figures for 2015/16.

Causes of reportable injuries

Causes of reportable specified injuries and over-seven-day injuries, based upon returns from SELECT Members who provided such information, are summarised in the chart on the right.

For the third year in a row, the handling of tools was one of the main causes of injuries and Members should continue to emphasise the importance of following manufacturers’ instructions to reduce such accidents.

Graph showing the causes of accidents in 2016

Manual handling also accounted for a significant number of injuries. Operatives should also be reminded to only attempt to lift or carry a load which they can lift comfortably, use a good manual handling technique and utilise handling aids to reduce risks.

Based on the results of previous surveys, falls from height and slips and trips on the same level typically accounted for around a third of reportable injuries. The 2016 survey indicates an improvement in this aspect of site safety, with a reduction to around one in five reportable accidents. But as falls from height are consistently the biggest cause of fatalities in the construction sector, we must all continue to aim to eliminate work at height wherever practicable and use safe working practices if it is unavoidable.

Although contact with electricity accounted for only 2% of reportable injuries, SELECT will continue to strive with other key industry bodies to promote safe electrical working practices, including safe isolation procedures, with the aim of reducing this figure still further.

Survey of Members 2017

While the majority of large and medium-sized companies responded to the 2016 SELECT survey, it was disappointing that only one in five smaller Member companies did so.

In order for SELECT to obtain a truly accurate gauge of the safety issues affecting our sector, we need all Members to respond when asked to provide their 2017 figures next Spring. Members are also reminded they are required to provide SELECT with accident figures when requested , as part of the SELECT assessment criteria.

We would therefore be grateful if all Members, including sole traders, could take a few minutes to complete and submit the survey when it arrives in your inbox in March 2018. This will help us focus on the key health and safety issues facing our industry sector in Scotland.

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