Workers employed by food manufacturers are nearly twice as likely to suffer a major injury in the workplace compared with their colleagues in other sectors of the manufacturing industry, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has revealed.
Food firms are currently the most dangerous sector of UK manufacturing industry after reporting an injury rate of almost twice the country’s average, according to latest HSE figures.
Food businesses topped the list for the sector after reporting 784 major injuries to staff in the past five years. That represents 265.7 injuries sustained per every 100,000 employees during the review period.
The fabricated metal products sector suffered the next largest number of injuries with 744 cases at an average rate of 247.9 per 100,000 employees.
The two sectors combined currently account for 36% of all reported major injuries in the manufacturing sector.
In 2010/11 manufacturing jobs accounted for 21% of workplace fatalities and 15% of reported injuries to staff.
In total, there were 17,599 reported non-fatal injuries and an estimated 27,000 self-reported injuries this year. Contact with moving machinery accounted for 11% of total injuries.
Deaths in the industry have fallen however in the past year with 27 fatalities in 2010/11 compared with an average of 30 in the previous five years. Fatal injuries have also dropped by a quarter compared with 20 years ago, the HSE revealed.
Workplace deaths across all UK industries have also risen since last year, according to the HSE. Latest figures show that 171 workers were killed, up from 147 fatalities over the past 12 months.
An estimated 1.2M people who worked last year were suffering from an illness that they believed was caused or exacerbated by their current or previous job, down from 1.3M the previous year.
David Lummis, ceo at the British Safety Industry Federation, said it was “upsetting” to see an increase in work-related fatalities after a consecutive four-year drop previously.
He said: “This is 171 lives too many. People deserve to go to work knowing that they will be protected, while friends and family need to be reassured that their loved ones will return home after a day’s work.
“Even the figures that show a reduction, such as the 1.2M people suffering from illness caused or made worse by their work, is too many. These are real people whose lives have been seriously affected, some with irreversible damage.”
Accidents reported by FoodManufacture.co.uk this year:
2 Sisters hit with £230,000 fine after factory injuries – October
Vion employee trapped in machinery pork plant - October
Bakkavör hit with £10,000 broken arm fine – October
Pauls Malt fined £8,000 after worker loses leg – October
Bread firm fined £1 after fatal fall - August
Premier Foods fined for ‘basic’ health and safety failure – September
Severed fingers lead to food firm fine - June
Heinz fined for finger loss at UK factory – May
Food Processor fined after worker’s hand severed in ‘horrific’ accident - February