Work-related deaths are higher than the murder rate

Violent crime is a serious and complex problem. The capitalist media gives it a lot of coverage, but not so those preventable safety crimes that last year caused twice as many deaths as violent criminals.

The solutions offered by the corporate press for violent crime – longer sentences, new offences – are often inferior to policies which would tackle the production and distribution of dangerous weapons. But as Britain has now become the worlds foremost arms exporter, you’d hardly expect the Sun to be demanding restrictions on the manufacture and sale of dangerous weapons…

Because safety crime has not been “problematised” – it not thought of as a problem – no solutions are offered by the mainstream media. In fact, government policy has lead to increasing numbers of safety crimes. You might even say, New Labour is a soft-touch when it comes to crimes against the safety of workers and consumers.

From The Guardian:

In January Garry Weddell, who was on bail awaiting trial for the murder of his wife, killed his mother-in-law before taking his own life. The fact that he was out on bail generated a huge public row and Jack Straw, the justice secretary, ordered a review of the bail arrangements for murder suspects that was published today.

The review concluded that banning bail for all murder suspects would “present legal problems”. Straw said that the important thing was to “strike the right balance between respecting individuals’ right to liberty and protecting the public”.

But, if he wanted to learn more about protecting the public, Straw should have dropped in to committee room 11 in the Commons this afternoon where the authors of a new report from the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies were presenting the findings of a fascinating study into “the decriminalisation of death and injury at work”.

Officially, you are more likely to be murdered in the UK than to die in a workplace accident. In 2005-06 there were 765 homicides in England and Wales (14 per million) and 217 fatal injuries to workers (7 per million).

But the authors tried to get a more accurate figure for workplace fatalities. The official Health and Safety Executive figures only include fatal injuries to employees and the self-employed. If you include accidents that kill members of the public and road deaths involving “at work” vehicles, the number of people killed from occupational injuries rises to around 1,300.

Or, as the authors say, “at least twice as many people die from fatal injuries at work than are victims of homicide”.

The authors described this as “safety crime” (a term I have never heard before). And they suggest that Labour’s light-touch regulatory approach to business is making it easier for employers to get away with it.

“What is remarkable about these unremarkable processes is how they attract little or no popular, political or academic attention,” they say.

“Just as remarkable here is the contrast between this deafening silence on the one hand and the ongoing moral panic that characterises social responses to most ‘mainstream’ violent crime on the other.”

4 Responses to “Work-related deaths are higher than the murder rate”

  1. Harpymarx Says:

    Absolutely, the way fatalities in the workplace are brushed under the carpet is obscene and the true figure is higher than the HSE gives.
    I mean, Workers’ Memorial Day is a time to the remember the dead and fight for the living (and it is a good slogan) but not enough is being done esp. in workplaces were health and safety is bad etc. And also people who have worked with asbestos for example, they can end up a ticking time bomb as the cancer can take years to develop. More people die from asbestos related illnesses than die in traffic accidents.
    And yet when it to dealing with companies etc. to make them responsible the government runs shy. I mean, look at the Corporate Manslaughter legislation….

  2. Safety crime - a forgotten killer « Rebellion Sucks! = a blog for socialism & self-determination Says:

    […] June 28, 2008 — charliemarks Respect MP George Galloway has an Early Day Motion on safety crime, and the following appeared in his Morning Star column: AMID the acres of column inches about […]

  3. Mary Vivenzi Says:

    Thanks so much for touching on this very important yet all too often ignored issue.
    Mary Vivenzi
    United Support & Memorial for Workplace Fatalities

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