THE Ministry of Defence is being urged to cut the number of Armed Forces personnel hurting themselves during military training and exercises after figures showed this was its leading cause of serious injuries.
The annual MoD Health and Safety Statistics Report reveals that during 2013-14 38 per cent of major or serious injuries suffered by Armed Forces personnel and civilian employees were during training or exercises.
Law firm Irwin Mitchell, which represents victims of injury and families of people who have died in accidents while serving in the military, say the figure of 760 training-related serious injuries last year is ‘disturbing’.
It says more need to be done to improve conditions for soldiers, and that training will become ever more important for troops in the face of the changing nature of the Army.
Geraldine McCool, head of the firm’s Military Injuries Claims Team, said: “The latest statistics are extremely disturbing as they not only follow the trend of training exercises being the biggest cause of injuries, but they also come at a time when the way our Armed Forces are being deployed is changing and there will inevitably be a period of intense and different training for our soldiers.
“Clearly being in the Armed Forces is a potentially dangerous vocation, but we have seen first-hand from the victims of accidents and their families that far too many people are being injured and even killed in avoidable training incidents in the UK and abroad.
“The real worry is that with our troops being withdrawn from combat in Afghanistan and deployed in different positions and British soldiers being sent to help deal with the new threats in Syria, the future role of the Army is changing and that requires more training for staff.”
The number of major and serious injuries and illnesses reported by military personnel and MoD civilians dropped by seven per cent from 2012/13, according to the report, though the overall rate has increased by 33 per cent over the last seven years.
The report said: “This is likely to be due to better reporting of health and safety incidents, rather than an actual increase in the number of incidents.”
The total number of injured personnel represents less than 0.5 per cent of all those employed by the MoD.