HSE release annual workplace fatality figures
On the 4th July the HSE released the annual figures for work-related fatal injuries 2017/18. It also released figures detailing the number of people known to have died from asbestos-related cancer, mesothelioma, in 2016.
The provisional annual data for work-related fatal injuries revealed that 144 workers were fatally injured between April 2017 and March 2018. Although this means an increase of nine deaths from 2016/17, there has been a long-term reduction in the number of fatalities since 1981 and the number has remained level in recent years. The average rate of fatal injury over the last 5 years has been 0.45 per 100,000 workers. In each of the last 5 years the number of fatal injuries has been:
2016/17- 135 deaths
2015/16- 147 deaths
2014/15- 142 deaths
2013/14- 136 deaths
2012/13- 150 deaths
2011/12- 171 deaths
HSE chairman 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 the breakdown throughout the different industrial sectors.
– 38 fatal injuries to construction workers were recorded, accounting for the largest share of an industry. The annual average rate over the last five years in construction is 4 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 5 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 around 1.5-2 times the rate across all industries over the last 5 years.
The three most common causes of fatal injuries continue to be due to; workers falling from height, being struck by a moving vehicle and being struck by a moving object which accounts for nearly 60% of fatal injuries at work in 2017/18.
The new figures also highlight the risks to older workers as 40% of fatal injuries in 2017/18 were to workers aged 60 or over, even though such workers make up only 10% of the workforce.
In addition, 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.
Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that takes many years to develop following the inhalation of asbestos fibres, but it is usually rapidly fatal following symptom onset. Annual deaths in Britain increased steeply over the last 50 years, a consequence of mainly occupational asbestos exposure that occurred because of the widespread industrial use of asbestos during 1950-1980.
There were 2,595 deaths in 2016 compared with 2,542 deaths in 2015. The long-term increase in mesothelioma deaths has been driven mainly by deaths among those ages 75 and above. Of the deaths in 2016, 398 were women and 2,197 were men – a ratio similar to previous years.
Latest projections suggest there will be around 2,500 deaths per year for the rest of the decade before the numbers decline.
British health and safety
Even though there are still a number of deaths at work, Britain has consistently had one of the lowest rates of fatal injuries to workers compared to all European countries.