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More workdays lost to injury than strikes

THE NUMBER of working days lost through injury is more than 30 times that lost through strikes, according to official statistics published today.

One in every 16 workers suffered some form of injury leading to absence, with a total of 21.1 million working days lost in England and Wales.

Injury rates are highest in mining and construction but more than half of all workplace injuries occurred in the service sector. Injured people took an average 15 days to return to work.

A study of workplace injuries in the Employment Gazette follows the 1990 Labour Force Survey in which 60,000 households were interviewed in detail.

Graham Stevens, of the Health and Safety Executive which conducted the research, said that the number of serious injuries reported to the executive was a third of those identified by the survey. For agricultural workers the number of incidents reported dropped to one in five while for the self-employed it was one in twenty.

Another report in the Employment Gazette says that the level of strikes in Britain has fallen to a record low in the past decade, with just 761,000 working days lost in 1991. The drop is from a peak of 29.5 million in 1979, the year of the 'Winter of Discontent', and 27.1 million in 1984, the year of the miner's strike.

The report states that Britain is now 'midway' in the strike league of industrialised nations. France, the United States, Australia and Canada all had worse records in 1991, although Britain was still behind the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Norway and Switzerland.

Britain has improved from 420 working days lost per 1,000 employees between 1982-86 to 130 days between 1987-91. The Japanese average for the decade was 10 days lost per 1,000 employees.

The Labour Force Survey suggested that 1.42 million people suffered injuries at work in England and Wales, with an estimate of 1.57 million in Great Britain resulting in more than 23 million days lost. Of the total in England and Wales, 616,000 resulted in more than three whole days off work while 109,000 were defined as 'major'.