HSE releases annual workplace fatality figures

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has released its annual figures for work-related fatalities.

The provisional annual data for work-related fatal accidents revealed that 137 workers were fatally injured between April 2016 and March 2017 (a rate of 0.43 per 100,000 workers), the second lowest year on record.

There has been a long-term downward trend in the number of fatal injuries to workers – they have halved over the last 20 years – although in recent years the trend shows signs of leveling. The average rate of fatal injury over the last five years has been 0.46 per 100, 000 workers. In each of the last five years, the number of fatal injuries has been:

  • 2015/16 – 147 workers died
  • 2014/15 – 142 workers died
  • 2013/14 – 136 workers died
  • 2012/13 – 150 workers died
  • 2011/12 – 171 workers died

The new figures show the rate of fatal injuries in several key industrial sectors:

  • 30 fatal injuries to construction workers were recorded. While this accounts for the largest share, this is the lowest number on record for the sector. However, over the last five years the number has fluctuated, The annual average for the past five years is 39. The annual average rate over the last five years in construction is around four times as high as the all industry rate.
  • 27 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.
  • 14 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 15 times as high as the all industry rate.

There were also 92 members of the public fatally injured in accidents connected to work in 2016/17. Almost half of these occurred on railways with the remainder occurring across a number of sectors including public services, entertainment and recreation.

Mesothelioma, one of the few work-related diseases where deaths can be counted directly, contracted through past exposure to asbestos killed 2,542 in Great Britain in 2015 compared to 2,519 in 2014. The current figures relating to asbestos-related cancer reflect widespread exposures before 1980. Annual deaths are therefore expected to start to reduce after this current decade.

The published fatal injury statistics also include a breakdown by country and region. Recent research suggests that variations in fatal injury rates between the countries and regions of Great Britain are largely explained by differences in the industry composition of the workforce between the countries and regions.

Britain has consistently had one of the lowest rates of fatal injuries to workers. In 2014, Britain had the lowest rate compared to other leading industrial nations in Europe – Germany, France, Spain, Italy and Poland http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/pdf/fatalinjuries.pdf.

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