HSE Reveal Rise In Workplace Fatalities

Posted by Lizzie Allen 9 July 2018

It's that time of year where the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) releases its annual figures (2017/18) for work-related deaths

Additionally, HSE has been able to reveal the number of people who died as a result of mesothelioma (an asbestos related cancer) in 2016.

There's a lot of important facts to digest, so let's dive in!

A Rise In Workplace Deaths

The provisional annual data shows 144 workers were fatally injured between April 2017 and March 2018 (that's a rate of 0.45 per 100,000 workers). This equates to an increase of nine fatalities from 2016/17.

However, HSE is quick to remind us there's been a long-term reduction in the number of deaths since 1981 and the number has remained mostly level in recent years. Even so, the figures highlight the importance of personal protective equipment (PPE) and general health and safety - clearly there's still work to be done!


“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.”

- Martin Temple, HSE Chair

Sector Statistics

HSE's new figures show how the fatal injuries are spread across different sectors.

  • 38 fatal injuries to construction workers, accounting for the largest share of any industry. The annual average over the past five years in construction is about four times as high as the all industry rate.
  • 29 fatal injuries to agricultural workers, continuing to account for a large share of the annual fatality count. This sector has the highest fatal injury rate of all the main industry sectors, around 18 times as high as the all industry rate.
  • 12 fatal injuries to waste and recycling workers. Although this is 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 in both the manufacturing and the transport and storage sectors. Both industries have an annual average rate of fatal injury around 1.5 - 2 times the rate across all industries over the past five years.

The three most common causes of fatal injuries continue to be due to:

  • Workers falling from height (35)
  • Being struck by a moving vehicle (26)
  • Being struck by a moving object (23)

And these account for nearly 60% of all fatal injuries in 2017/18!

Other Risks

These latest figures also highlight the risk to older workers - 40% of fatal injuries were to workers aged 60 or over, despite the fact these workers only make up around 10% of the workforce.

Additionally, 100 members of the public were fatally injured in incidents relating to work, with just over half of these occurring on railways.

What About Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a disease contracted through past exposure to asbestos. It's also one of the few work-related diseases where deaths can be counted directly. (You can find out how to keep protected when working with asbestos in our previous asbestos PPE blog post.)

The current figures report that 2,595 workers were killed in Great Britain in 2016. This is mainly due to occupational asbestos exposures that happened before 1980. HSE explains that annual deaths are expected to remain at current levels for the rest of the decade before starting to decline.

You can read the full report from HSE here.

A more in-depth assessment of workplace ill-health and injuries, drawing on HSE's full range of data sources, will be released on 31st October 2018.

Safety Begins With An Awesome Risk Assessment

HSE's latest figures show just how important it is to take occupational health and safety seriously.

And every great H&S policy starts with an awesome risk assessment.

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