Health and safety illnesses and deaths – the facts (Part Two)

The figures may not be overly alarming when it comes to people dying while at work but there is a high number who suffer from ultimately fatal work-related diseases. There are 13,000 deaths per year that can be attributed to conditions picked up at work and occupational cancers account for a significant proportion of these fatalities.

It is common for such illnesses to build up over a number of years but the conditions of someone’s former workplace can be a major contributory factor. Among the work-related diseases cited as the most fatal are Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (from gases, dust, fumes and vapours), lung cancer (from mineral oils, diesel engine exhausts, silica and asbestos) and mesothelioma (from asbestos).

Asbestos is certainly a huge cause of deaths related to working conditions and there have been around 5000 of these in the last year and the number is expected to rise further still. Health and safety is of major importance for workplaces and the past year has seen 706 prosecutions for breaches of this. The fines for these offences amounted to £15million and 95 per cent of the cases led to a conviction.