Annual work-related deaths due to accidents increase to 142. Mesothelioma deaths still exceed 2,000

On 7 July 2021 the Health & Safety Executive released provisional data on work-related deaths in England & Wales and Scotland in 2020/21. The data excludes ‘conventional’ occupational diseases as well as excluding COVID-19. Worker fatalities increased from 113 in 2019/20 to 142 in 2020/21 (a 25% increase) although HSE reports that last year “was low compared to other recent years [and] in statistical terms the number of fatalities has remained broadly level in recent years.” It is worth noting that despite this increase, Great Britain remains comfortably within the lower quartile of work-related fatality rates when compared to European countries.

In contrast, work-related fatalities involving members of the public fell from 106 to 60 in 2020/21. HSE points out that this “is statistically significantly lower than in earlier years and almost certainly reflects the lockdown restrictions in place on the British public over the course of the year.”

A separate HSE publication also released this month updates statistics and projections for mesothelioma deaths. An annual count of more than 2,300 deaths from the disease can hardly be described as positive, but HSE records that the total is 7% lower than the average over the last seven years. The total masks a notable difference between the sexes. The observed reduction of 9% in male deaths is “in-line with earlier predictions suggesting that annual mesothelioma deaths would gradually start to reduce by around year 2020.” However, the figure for female deaths (which form slightly more than a sixth of the total) remains similar to earlier years but, once again, is “in-line with earlier predictions suggesting that annual counts during the 2020s would remain at the current level before starting to decline.”

Both HSE publications can be accessed via links in the HSE’s press release of 7 July.

Alistair Kinley, Director of Policy & Government Affairs

Settling claims by minors & court approval – consultation launched on possible reform in Northern Ireland

Among the many issues highlighted by Lord Justice Gillen’s 2017 review of civil justice in NI was the absence of a process for approving settlements in claims involving minors and in which proceedings had not been issued. The Gillen group’s view was that “serious consideration [should] be given to introducing legislation to make court approval of legal settlements of financial cases involving minors mandatory.” The consultation paper issued on 7 July 2021 by the Department of Justice NI now takes that forward and sets out possible options for reform (including ‘no change’). Responses are due by 24 September.

Continue reading

Written Ministerial Statement on the removal of Vnuk from UK law

In a blog just last week I commented that we have yet to see draft legislation which would remove the effects of the Vnuk decision from UK law. While that remains the case, on 29 June the Secretary of State for Transport gave a Written Statement to Parliament (which can be found here) in which he noted the recent emergence of a Private Member’s Bill (PMB) that seeks to do this and he repeated that a slot to introduce primary legislation “will be sought at the earliest possible opportunity” (perhaps something of a meaningless phrase). We’ll keep a close eye out for the publication of either the PMB and/or any government legislation.

Alistair Kinley, Director of Policy & Government Affairs