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Fatal Accidents Fell in 2010: Does Anyone Still Like to Think Health & Safety is Ridiculous?

18th February 2011
By giarcr in Accident claims
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For those who whinge the next time they hear the well-trodden phrase 'health and safety', perhaps the following pieces of news may help to dilute their disgruntled attitude.

Now that we have moved into 2011, the statistics for the last year have been released, and they show that the relentless drive to save human lives seems to be working, in some areas at least.

The first set of statistics concern Northern Ireland. For such a small country it usually has a fairly appalling number of road accident deaths every year, probably not helped by the relatively tiny number of fixed speed cameras and huge stretches of twisty, poorly-lit B-roads.

Add the country's innate propensity towards rain and you have a recipe for motoring danger. Many people in the province live in relatively rural communities and public transport networks are not as advanced as they are in mainland Britain. These people often have no choice but to take to the roads themselves, and a combination of the environment itself and much youthful exuberance often results in tragedy.

The story is the same on the rest of the island: the Republic of Ireland is infamous for welcoming visitors over a county border with a road sign informing drivers of the area's death toll in the past year.

So it comes as a welcome surprise, north of the border at least, that 2010 saw the fewest number of fatal road accidents since records began in 1931: 55 as opposed to 2009's 115, a reduction of over 50%. Although they must be privately slapping themselves on the back, the men in charge insist, and rightly so, that the only result with which they will be entirely happy is a reduction of 100%, ie no deaths at all.

"We cannot dwell on our achievements and we cannot be satisfied by 55 deaths and hundreds of seriously injured people," Environment Minister Edwin Poots told the BBC.

"Even one life is one too many. There is a greater prize to be had - zero road casualties."

"Complacency poses an enormous threat to road users - so we must not let our guard down.

"I continue to urge road users to pay attention, expect the unexpected, slow down, always wear your seatbelt and never ever drink and drive."

PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Duncan McCausland agreed, saying:

"We can never be complacent on this issue.

"The stark reality is that the majority of road traffic collisions are preventable.

"We make absolutely no apology for robustly targeting dangerous and inappropriate driving and need public support to reinforce the road safety message."

Away from the roads, the Health and Safety Executive is reporting a similar pattern, with work-related fatalities falling to an all-time low in 2010, and with statistics demonstrating a fall in other non-fatal injuries as well.

However, like the PSNI and NI government, they have also insisted that there is nothing to celebrate, with 19 people still having lost their lives in the North-West of England last year.

However, between you and me, I think this shows that 'health and safety' law is more than just a fish in a barrel, with the under-informed press and their salivating readership taking aim once again. It is to be applauded.


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