MORE than 100 people were injured at work in Barnsley last year - adding to the seven residents who have died in the last eight years - as locals flocked to the town hall to commemorate them last week.
The latest figures from the Health and Safety Executive - known as Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations - show seven people were killed in accidents at work in Barnsley over the last eight years, when comparable figures began.
Across Great Britain, 123 fatalities were recorded in 2021/22 - which means 1,100 people have died at work in the last eight years.
However, the figures were questioned by unions, who said deaths from certain sectors were not included, as well as from work-related illnesses such as asbestos exposure.
The GMB trade union said it is ‘extremely sceptical’ that the current data shows the full story, and claimed there are issues with under-reporting.
Daniel Shears, national health and safety officer at GMB, said: “Whilst almost all work-related fatalities in the scope of RIDDOR will be reported, by definition this excludes deaths at sea, deaths airside in aviation, all work-related road traffic fatalities, and work-related suicides.”
Mr Shears said adding these and those from long-term illnesses caused in the workplace puts the true figure of annual deaths in the UK between 20,000 and 50,000.
He also called on greater funding for regulators to increase the number of employers reporting injuries and fatalities.
Meanwhile, 61,700 workers reported non-fatal injuries across the country in 2021/22 - of them, 186 were in Barnsley.
Around 70 per cent of the local injuries resulted in someone missing at least seven working days.
An injury is recorded if an employee misses the following seven days of work, or if they suffer a fracture, amputation, reduction or loss of sight, serious burn, a head injury which causes unconsciousness, scalping, crush-related injuries, or hypothermia or heat-induced illness caused by working in an enclosed space.
Shelly Asquith, health and safety lead at the TUC, said: “Now is not the time for complacency.
“Too many people are dying from avoidable workplace accidents and illnesses“.
Ms Asquith also called on the government to provide ‘proper investment in health and safety enforcement’.
“The HSE has had more than half its budget cut in the last ten years,” she added.
An HSE spokesperson added: “Nobody should die at work.
“Every loss of life is a tragedy, and we are committed to making workplaces safer and securing justice as part of our mission to protect people and places.
“Many different authorities can investigate and prosecute using the Health and Safety at Work Act.
“The cases we lead are investigated robustly.”
On Friday, a number of local residents arrived outside the town hall to pay their respects to those who have died at work.
George Arthur, the secretary of the Barnsley Trades Union Council, said: “There were some good speeches from local trade unionists, Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign and the Mayor of Barnsley.
“We remember the dead and fight for the living.”