Low workplace death rate continues new HSE annual report states
Published: 11 Jul 2017

The newly published Health and Safety Executive's (HSE) report presents the statistics on fatal injuries in the workplaces in the UK from April 2016 to March 2017. The statistics reveal, that in the past 12 months to the end of March, 137 people were killed while at work.

The figure corresponds to the five-year-low death rate since 2012, with an average of 142 fatalities each year. Over the last 20 years, the number of accidents at work, which resulted in a fatality, have halved and represent the significant improvement of the management of hazards, risk assessment and control.

Last year, 20 construction workers sustained fatal injuries, which is a record-low, despite of the largest share of workplace deaths. On the other side, the waste and recycling industry deaths have almost doubled, compared to a previous five-year-low of eight. However, this is largely related to the incident at the Hawkeswood Metal Recycling plant in Birmingham in July 2016, where five employees were killed after a wall collapse, bringing the total number of deaths to 14.

Agriculture was another sector that showed a high rate of fatal injuries with 27 workers losing their lives last year.

The report distinguishes the main kinds of fatal accidents for workers, which are:

  • struck by a moving vehicle - 31 fatalities;
  • falls from height - 25 fatalities;
  • struck by a moving object - 20 fatalities;
  • trapped by something collapsing/overturning - 10 fatalities;
  • contact with moving machinery - 8 fatalities;
  • contact with electricity - 8 fatalities.

Older workers (aged 60 plus) accounted for 34 fatal injuries, which is a quarter of the overall statistic. This is a very high number, keeping in mind, that this demographic group makes up only 10% of the whole workforce.

A total of 92 members of the public were killed in 2016/2017 as a result of a work-related accident. Of these deaths, almost half (43) occurred on railways and a further 14 occurred in the health and social sector. Comparison of numbers has been complicated over the recent years, due to removal of reporting suicides on railways to members of the public in October 2013.

Chair of the HSE, Martin Temple, said: "Every fatality is a tragic event that should not happen. While we are encouraged by this improvement on the previous year, we continue unwaveringly on our mission to prevent injury, death and ill health by protecting people and reducing risks."

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