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Speaking up for safety in the home

   Speaking up for safety in the home

Lord Jordan of Bournville, RoSPA's Deputy President, contributed to the Queen's Speech debate by urging the government to include measures to prevent accidents in the home in their proposed Building Safety Bill.

Here is the Hansard record of what Lord Jordan said:


More than 6,000 people are killed as a result of home accidents in the UK every year, considerably more than are killed in workplace or road accidents. The home has become, statistically, a dangerous place to be.

My comparison with road and workplace-related injury seeks not to downplay the seriousness of accidents in other environments but to highlight the fact that reductions in accidental death and injury in those areas were brought about by vigorous and prolonged campaigns led by the trade union movement and organizations such as RoSPA that eventually won the support of the Government, which then saw a safety crusade turned into life-saving laws. The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 was a turning point for safety in the world of work.

The eradication of home accidents has not yet benefited in the same way from such rigorous and enduring national campaigns. Consequently, the number of fatal and serious accidents in our homes has been increasing. This must change. The Government’s proposed building safety Bill provides an opportunity to alter course and to have a dramatic impact on the number of people needlessly dying or requiring hospital treatment. The Bill has the stated aim of changing industry culture to ensure accountability and that residents are safe in their homes. The focus is understandably on fire safety given the tragic events at Grenfell Tower. However, change is also needed to ensure that new homes have safety built into them to prevent other types of accidental injury. It should be noted that for every one fire-related hospital admission, there are 234 due to accidental falls.

The design of new homes can be improved to minimize the risk of accidents, particularly for those most vulnerable to serious injury: very young children and older people. Many of these accidents could be reduced by better design, such as installing flooring with higher slip resistance in bathrooms and kitchens, where a simple slip can have devastating, long-lasting or life-changing consequences for an older person. If the building regulations were to require the achievement of a minimum standard within, for example, RoSPA’s Safer by Design framework, which has now been endorsed by Public Health England, we could significantly improve the safety of new homes and prevent thousands of life-endangering falls every year. Safer by Design concentrates on dangers that tend not to attract the same level of public scrutiny as other hazards such as fire. The hazards it covers have the greatest likelihood of causing harm in new homes. Falls, burns, carbon monoxide poisoning, entrapment and poisoning from household chemicals all typically happen behind closed doors, yet they affect many thousands of people, causing death and serious injury every year.

Falls in homes account for 124 deaths, 48,600 hospital admissions and more than 600,000 visits to accident and emergency in England each year. It is insane to pour billions of pounds into the NHS bucket while gaping holes such as this go unrepaired. The Government must now include provisions for preventing the most common accidents in the home in their overhaul of building safety regulations, and put safety at the heart of their housebuilding programme.

Posted: 1/9/2020 2:39:28 PM 0 comments


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