Every year 14,000 people are killed in accidents in the UK, and tens of thousands more receive life-changing injuries. The most vulnerable in our society are disproportionately affected, with the under-5s, the over-65s, and those from poorer backgrounds experiencing the highest volume and most serious injuries.
These accidents happen in our own homes, while we’re on the road, as we’re making a living, when we’re learning, and when we’re simply out enjoying ourselves and making the most of life. They end life and limit the opportunities available to us, and yet they are entirely preventable.
For too long this epidemic has gone unaddressed by the public health agenda, but it has major impacts on the provision of health services, on levels of public spending on health and social care, and on the country’s ability to do business as worktime and productivity are lost.
That’s why, ahead of the 2019 general election, RoSPA is calling on all political parties to make some simple, low-cost pledges as part of their manifestos to ensure they’re placing wellbeing – individual, economic and societal – at the heart of their policies:
A commitment to the protection of workers and their families through proportionate regulation
- A commitment to the protection of workers and their families through proportionate regulation
- A commitment to safe and active travel
- A commitment to safer homes, for all stages of life.
The UK has the most enviable workplace health and safety record in the world. It is a beacon of best practice and, as such, the rest of the world follows our lead. Many EU regulations were created on the basis of what we do here in the UK.
We know that good, proportionate health and safety practice is good for business. It’s a simple equation – fewer injuries and less stress equals more time spent at work by more people. When good practice is disregarded, it can be devastating for organisations and the country, not to mention the individuals involved; in 2018/19, 28.2million working days were lost in Great Britain due to work-related ill health and non-fatal injury
But good health and safety practice is under threat. If we leave the EU with the current deal, there are no longer any legal guarantees that the high, evidence-based standards – which are proven to aid the economy and which previous reviews have found to be proportionate and fit for purpose – will be protected when the country seeks to strike new trade deals with the rest of the world.
RoSPA, and many of its friends and partners in the world of occupational safety and health, are very concerned that we may see the erosion of legislation and regulations that protect life, limb and wellbeing, for the sake of making a deal.
We’re calling on all parties to make a commitment to the protection of current workplace health and safety regulation.
Not only would this be a pledge to protect and enhance the economy, but it would be a moral pledge to look after everyone, everywhere, while they’re making a living.
To find out what happens when good health and safety practice is not followed at work, read Jason’s story
, and that of his daughter, Abbi
A commitment to safe and active travel
The United Kingdom – and the rest of the world – is facing unprecedented threats from pollution. Recently, 11,000 scientists from 153 countries declared a climate emergency
, along with more than half of local authorities
in this country. It is widely recognised that air pollution also contributes to severe health conditions, such as lung disease
Meanwhile, we are facing an obesity crisis, with the number of people being classified as obese or overweight on the rise
One solution to help ease both of these problems is the promotion of active travel.
In 2018, 58 per cent of trips made by car drivers were under five miles; nearly one in four (24 per cent) were under two miles.
These are journeys that could be undertaken easily by walking, cycling, or another mode of active travel, and yet we know that people are put off from doing so as they deem it to be unsafe. In 2018, 456 pedestrians and 99 cyclists were killed on our roads
, and vulnerable road users experience by far the biggest casualty and fatality rates of all modes of transport.
We want all parties to commit to promoting safe and active travel
. By improving on the “three Es of safety” – engineering, education and enforcement – we could do wonders for the environment and people’s health.
To improve engineering and active travel options, cycle and walking routes should be continuous, direct, and join up residential areas, commercial areas and schools. Cyclists should not have to cycle unprotected in busy and fast moving traffic, and pedestrians need safe and well-designed footways and crossing facilities. A new cycle route manual should be produced which builds on current technical advice. RoSPA believes that a national design standard with post-implementation monitoring should be developed to ensure that all cycling (and walking) provision schemes are delivered to a set safety standard. This would mean common standard guidance would apply to all road and junction types, highway and traffic schemes, new developments and planned highway maintenance works.
Education could be improved through the statutory provision of pedestrian training for young children in Key Stages 1 and 2. This should be seen as the beginning of a lifelong cycle of road safety training (which would also encompass cycle training, pre-driver education, the learning-to-drive process and “refresher” driver training later in life), and should be conducted in real-road environments. This could be delivered through a national pedestrian training scheme available to schools.
And the final “E” of enforcement is an obvious one – road policing numbers have fallen drastically in recent years
. This should be addressed as a matter of urgency to ensure that road safety legislation acts as a real deterrent to those who are determined to ignore it.
Read Nazan’s story
, whose daughter Hope was killed by a lorry on her way home from school, and that of Harriett and Beccy
, a tragedy that we fear will be repeated many times over if roads policing is not taken seriously.
A commitment to safer homes, for all stages of life
Every year, around 6,000 people die due to an accident at home, and it is the location in which the greatest proportion of unintentional injury occurs, with the very young (under-5) and over-65s being disproportionately affected.
Falls place an incredible burden on our national health and social care services, consistently being the number one cause of hospital admissions from accidents for all age
groups, with the majority of these happening at home.
For older people, falls and fragility fractures can result in loss of independence, injury and death. They are high volume and costly, with 255,000 falls-related emergency hospital admissions in England every year for those aged 65 and over – nearly 700 every day. The cost of hip fractures alone is estimated at £2billion
But these falls and other home-based accidents – such as poisonings in the under-5s – don’t have to happen.
With simple, low-cost solutions implemented at the design stage, we can ensure new homes are safe for a person’s whole life. With industry experts, RoSPA has developed Safer by design: A framework to reduce serious accidental injury in new-build homes,
which outlines small modifications that can make big reductions to the number of injuries due to falls, burns and scalds, carbon monoxide and chemical poisoning, and entrapment.
With housing set to be high on the agenda during this election campaign, RoSPA wants all parties to commit to building homes that are safer by design, for everyone at all ages and stages of life.
Some of the recommendations in Safer by design
include following the guidance given in BS5395-1:2010
for all stairs, providing window restrictors to prevent children falling from height, providing slip test certificates for bath and shower bases, and fitting ovens at mid-height.
The framework is already being adopted, so we know the framework is practically, technically, and economically-possible to adopt.
Read about Lucy and her friend Katie
, who both have stories about the importance of carbon monoxide detectors.
Any parties or candidates wishing to speak to RoSPA about making manifesto pledges should contact Adam Grinsell on [email protected]
or 0121 248 2076.
Posted: 11/14/2019 10:13:17 AM