Health and Safety Week: celebrating UK safety record

The rate of fatal accidents in the UK has fallen by 85% since the introduction of the Health and Safety at Work Act in 1974, 40 years ago. In celebration of this, health and safety organisations across the country are uniting to launch Health & Safety Week 2014, which will take place between 16–20 June.

Health and Safety Week will launch at Safety and Health Expo and reinstate a positive image for this exceptionally worthwhile profession. The week was devised by the Safety and Health Expo team along with its sister brands SHP and Barbour EHS.

“It’s about time the UK celebrates its health and safety record. We lead the world with this record and this is evidenced with events such as London 2012 where no lives were lost during the construction of the Olympic Park,” says Heather Beach, brand director of SHP, Barbour and SHExpo. “We should be proud of what we have achieved and shout about our successes because as a result of all the hard work, people’s lives are being saved every day.”

Organisations that have signed up to launch this week include the Institution of Occupational Safety & Health (IOSH), the British Occupational Hygiene Society (BOHS), the British Safety Industry Federation (BSIF), the British Safety Council (BSC), the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), Safety Groups UK (SGUK) and the International Institute of Risk and Safety Management (IIRSM).

The profession has undergone criticism from both the government and newspapers in the recent past, in part a reaction to civil litigation culture. However, businesses have been wising up to the long-term benefits of health and safety, as an integral part of their sustainability and CSR initiatives.

“We intend to put a positive light on the importance and value of recognising and engaging with health and safety so that we can begin to focus on the next challenge – the reduction of deaths from work-related illnesses,” says Heather Beach. “Around 13,000 people continue to die every year from illnesses that have developed as a result of their work such as cancer and lung diseases. This number is clearly not acceptable and Health & Safety Week is being launched to raise awareness of these issues and encourage employers to ensure a worker’s life is not put in unnecessary danger.”

Judith Hackitt CBE, chair, HSE, will launch the week on 17 June at 10am. A range of initiatives and campaigns for businesses and workplaces to engage with will take place throughout the week and beyond.