Provisional annual data for work-related fatal accidents in Great Britain’s workplaces shows small change from previous years, sustaining a long term trend that has seen the rate of fatalities more than halve over the last 20 years.
Provisional annual data released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reveals 142 workers were fatally injured at work between April 2014 and March 2015 (a rate of 0.46 fatalities per 100,000 workers). This compares to last year’s all-time low of 136 (0.45 fatalities per 100,000 workers). Fatal injuries at work are thankfully rare events and as a consequence, the annual figures are subject to chance variation.
The statistics again confirm the UK to be one of the safest places to work in Europe, having one of the lowest rates of fatal injuries to workers in leading industrial nations.
However, HSE’s Chair points out that every death is a tragedy. Judith Hackitt said: “It is disappointing last year’s performance on fatal injuries has not been matched, but the trend continues to be one of improvement. Our systems and our framework remain strong as demonstrated by our performance in comparison to other countries.”
“Every fatality is a tragic event and our commitment to preventing loss of life in the workplace remains unaltered. All workplace fatalities drive HSE to develop even more effective interventions to reduce death, injury and ill health.”
The new figures show the rate of fatal injuries in several key industrial sectors:
• 35 fatal injuries to construction workers were recorded – a rate of 1.62 deaths per 100,000 workers, compared to an average of 45 deaths in the past five years and a decrease from the 44 deaths recorded in 2013-14.
• 33 fatal injuries to agricultural workers were recorded – a rate of 9.12 deaths per 100,000 workers, the same as the average of 33 deaths in the past five years and an increase from the 27 deaths recorded in 2013-14.
• Five fatal injuries to Waste and Recycling workers were recorded – a rate of 4.31 deaths per 100,000 workers, compared to an average of six deaths in the past five years and an increase from the four deaths recorded in 2013-14.
The published statistics also include a breakdown by country and region. These are strongly influenced by variations in the mix of industries and occupations. For example in Scotland and Wales compared to England, there are noticeably fewer employees in lower-risk occupational groups, with relatively more in higher-risk ones. In addition, the number of fatalities in some regions is relatively small, hence susceptible to considerable variation.
HSE has also released the latest available figures on deaths from asbestos-related cancer. Mesothelioma (one of the few work-related diseases where deaths can be counted directly) contracted through past exposure to asbestos, killed 2,538 in Great Britain in 2013 compared to 2,548 in 2012.
A more detailed assessment of the data will be provided as part of the annual Health and Safety Statistics release at the end of October. As this draws on HSE’s full range of sources, including changes in non-fatal injuries and health trends, and will provide a richer picture on trends.
1. The Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice, promoting training, new or revised regulations and codes of practice, and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement
2. The average rate of fatal injury over the last five years has been 0.53 per 100,000 workers. In each of the last five years, the number of fatal injuries has been:
2013-14 – 136 workers died
2012-13 – 150 workers died
2011-12 – 171 workers died
2010-11 – 175 workers died
2009-10 – 147 workers died
3. There were 2,538 mesothelioma deaths in 2013, a similar number to the 2,548 deaths in 2012, but substantially higher than the 2,312 deaths in 2011. The increase in mesothelioma deaths in recent years has been driven mainly by deaths among those aged 75 and above. Of the deaths in 2013, 415 were among women and 2,123 were among men. Again, these are similar to numbers in 2012 when there were 411 deaths among women and 2,137 among men
4. Based on the latest available data (from 2012) Britain continues to have the lowest rate of fatal injuries to workers among the five leading industrial nations in Europe: Germany, France, Spain and Italy for the eighth year http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/pdf/fatalinjuries.pdf
5. The reporting of health and safety incidents at work is a statutory requirement, set out under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR) (http://www.hse.gov.uk/riddor/) A reportable incident includes: a death or major injury; any accident which does not result in major injury but where the injured person still has to take seven or more days off their normal work to recover; a work related disease; a member of the public being injured as a result of work-related activity and subsequently taken to hospital for treatment; or a dangerous occurrence, which does not result in a serious injury, but could have done
6. The fatal injury figures do not include fatal accidents on non-rail transport systems or work-related deaths from fatal diseases
7. Further information on these statistics can be found at http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/fatals.htm