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Health & Safety at Work Act celebrates 40 years

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The BBC’s ‘The One Show’ has put together a special feature marking the 40th anniversary of the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974) and campaigner James Tye, the founder of the British Safety Council. The progamme featured archive footage of James discussing safety issues that concerned him and showcased interviews with British Safety Council Trustee, Lawrence Waterman, and former Chief Press Officer, Tim Challis.

“Over 1000 workers were being killed at work in Great Britain when James began in the late 1950s,” says Alex Botha, chief executive of the British Safety Council. “Given that since then to today we have seen a reduction of fatalities by 85%, it is clear that James’s efforts have borne fruit. His legacy is plain to see not only in the legal framework created by the 1974 Act but also in something like the London 2012 Olympic build where for the first time no worker was killed. As the programme says, he succeeded because he was committed and because ultimately he was right. We at the British Safety Council are proud of our near 60 year history but we know that with 2.3 million workers across the globe dying each year from work-related activities, his mission to make the world safer continues to be an urgent and ongoing one.”

Founded in 1957, the British Council has spent almost 60 years educating people about risks at work, principally though training, audits and campaigns. Founder James Tye had an international outlook, creating the International Safety Awards to recognise the best and which also promoted the safety message.

The One Show programme about the life of James Tye can be viewed here until 5 September 2014, 7.29 pm BST (feature starts at 02:50).

Meanwhile, also considering the 40th anniversary of the Health and Safety at Work Act, workplace equipment supplier Slingsby says new figures revealing the UK is now one of the safest countries to work in the world must be applauded, but warns there is still work to do.

The figures, released by The Health & Safety Executive (HSE), show that the number of fatalities and injuries has dropped dramatically over the last 40 years.

Slingsby’s Marketing Director, Lee Wright, explains: “When the Health and Safety at Work Act was introduced, it laid the foundations for the HSE to be established, and both have completely transformed how all workplaces operate across every industry. Health and safety is now a key consideration for all employees and as a result, Britain enjoys one of the best safety record’s in the world.

“40 years is a relatively short space of time to achieve such impressive results and completely change the mindset of so many employers, businesses and organisations and encourage them to manage risk in a proportionate and practical way. 

“However there’s still a lot more that can be done. The HSE is now bringing more cases to court than ever before and more stringent punishments, including fines and prison sentences, are being dished out to those that ignore the law and the wellbeing of their employees and visitors, but there are still tens of thousands of workplace accidents occurring every year.”

Lee continues: “The majority of work related accidents are avoidable and often involve the same hazards time and time again such as workplace transport, falls from height, manual handling, health risks from hazardous materials, workplace stress, as well as slips trips and falls. 

“In our experience, in most cases workers can be protected from these hazards by introducing simple safety measures, investing in some basic equipment and carrying out regular risk assessments and we would urge employers not to lose sight of this.”

Adapted from press releases by

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