July 4, 2018

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Workplace Deaths

Rise in workplace deaths revealed

Annual figures for work-related injuries for 2017/18, released today by the HSE, reveal that 144 workers were fatally injured between April 2017 and March 2018 (a rate of 0.45 per 100,000 workers).

This provisional annual data represents an increase of nine fatalities from 2016/17, although the HSE points out that there has been a long-term reduction in the number of deaths since 1981 and the number has remained broadly level in recent years, it says.

Statistics from the HSE also reveal the number of people known to have died from the asbestos-related cancer, mesothelioma, in 2016.

Concern

HSE Chair Martin Temple said: “Despite the fact that Britain’s health and safety record is the envy of much of the world, the increase in the number of workers fatally injured is clearly a source of concern.

“Published in the same week as the 30th anniversary of the Piper Alpha disaster, the figures serve as a reminder of why health and safety is so important and that we must not become complacent as we continue on our mission to prevent all forms of injury, death and ill health at work.”

The new figures show how fatal injuries are spread across the different industrial sectors:

  • 38 fatal injuries to construction workers were recorded, accounting for the largest share of any industry. The annual average rate over the last five years in construction is around four times as high as the all industry rate.
  • 29 fatal injuries to agricultural workers were recorded. This sector continues to account for a large share of the annual fatality count. It has the highest rate of fatal injury of all the main industry sectors, around 18 times as high as the all industry rate.
  • 12 fatal injuries to waste and recycling workers were recorded. Despite being a relatively small sector in terms of employment, the annual average fatal injury rate over the last five years is around 16 times as high as the all industry rate.
  • 15 fatal injuries were recorded in both the manufacturing and the transport and storage sectors. Both industries have an annual average rate of fatal injury around 1.5 – two times the rate across all industries over the last five years.

The three most common causes of fatal injuries continue to be down to: workers falling from height (35), being struck by a moving vehicle (26) and being struck by a moving object (23), accounting for nearly 60 per cent of fatal injuries in 2017/18.

The new figures also highlight the risks to older workers, with 40% of fatal injuries in 2017/18 to workers aged 60 or over, even though such workers made up only around 10% of the workforce.

There were also 100 members of the public fatally injured in incidents connected to work in 2017/18 with just over half of these fatalities occurring on railways.

Asbestos figures

Mesothelioma, contracted through past exposure to asbestos and one of the few work-related diseases where deaths can be counted directly, killed 2,595 in Great Britain in 2016, says the HSE. The current figures are largely a consequence of occupational asbestos exposures that occurred before 1980. Annual deaths are expected to remain broadly at current levels for the rest of the decade before beginning to decline.

The full report from the HSE can be found here.

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