July 13, 2015

Fatal Assault Puts Latest Workplace Accident Figures Into Perspective

The HSE has released provisional annual data for work-related fatal accidents in Great Britain’s workplaces 2014/15. The number of employees in service industries receiving fatal injuries in the course of their work has shown an increase from the 2013/14 figure of 35 to the 2014/15 provisional total of 40. 

The release comes just a few days after the tragic death of Lorraine Barwell, a custody officer working for Serco, who was seriously assaulted by a male prisoner. It provides a timely reminder that every death is a tragedy and continued commitment and drive work to identify risks and improve safety in the workplace is essential.

Mrs Barwell was left in a coma after being battered by a prisoner she was escorting at Blackfriars Crown Court in south London on Monday 29th June. Just a few days later doctors advised the family there was nothing more they could do for her and her life support machine was switched off. The Metropolitan police have stated that post-mortem examination tests show the provisional cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head.

Workplace deaths as a result of physical violence are often not reported under RIDDOR as they are primarily covered by other legislation and the police have primacy in the investigation.

Serco’s contract director told the DailyTelegraph, "We take a zero tolerance approach to violence against staff and we always press for the most serious charge to be laid against those responsible." 

Scotland Yard, Serco and the Ministry of Justice are investigating Ms Barwell's death.

HSE Statistics on Fatal Injuries in the Workplace