Updated Jul 9, 2020

HSE release annual statistics for workplace fatalities

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has published the annual statistics for workplace fatal injuries in Great Britain.

111 workers were killed in the 2019/2020 period, whilst this figure is down on the previous years figures by 38 and is the lowest annual number of workplace annual deaths on record, it is still 111 deaths too many.

The HSE has said that it is difficult to assess the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the number of workplace fatalities. So as the reporting for annual fatality figures runs from April to March, they compared the years figures excluding the deaths in February and March when coronavirus began to impact workplaces. They found that in the first ten months of the 2019/2020 reporting cycle, fewer deaths were reported than in previous comparable years. Considering the full year, the number of workplace fatalities has been significantly lower, and COVID-19 may have had some impact on reducing workplace fatalities further due to site closures or reduced capacity operating at sites.

The construction sector remains the most dangerous in terms of workplace fatalities; it was also the only industry sector which saw a rise in deaths with 40 workers killed in 2019/2020 compared to 31 the previous year.

Agriculture, forestry and fishing remained the second most dangerous sector for workers. Although it did see a record low level of recorded fatal injuries with 20 workers killed, the sector still accounts for around 20% of all workplace fatalities.

The following sectors all saw a decrease in workplace fatalities:

  • manufacturing, 15 deaths in 2019/2020, compared to 26 previously;
  • transportation and storage, 11 deaths in 2019/2020, compared to 16 previously;
  • wholesale, retail, motor, repair; accommodation and food, six deaths in 2019/2020, compared to 18 previously;
  • waste and recycling, five deaths in 2019/2020, compared to seven previously;
  • administrative and support services, six deaths in 2019/2020, compared to 10 previously.

Based on the annual average fatality rates over the last five years, taking into account fatalities per 100,000 workers, the:

  • agriculture, forestry and fishing, and waste and recycling, sectors continue to be the worst sectors with the fatality rate 18 times the average across all industries;
  • construction sector has a fatality rate four times higher than the average across all industries;
  • manufacturing and transportation and storage sectors had a fatality rate double that of the average.

For fatalities by accident type, the figures are as follows:

  • 29 deaths from falls from height, down from 40 the previous year, but this still remains the largest cause of workplace fatalities;
  • 20 deaths from being struck by a moving vehicle, a decrease of 10 from the previous year;
  • 18 deaths resulted from being struck by a moving object, an increase of two from the previous year;
  • 15 deaths due to being trapped by something collapsing or overturning, increased from 11 deaths the previous year;
  • 11 deaths due to contact with moving machinery, this has decreased from 14 deaths the previous year;
  • 18 deaths were attributed to other kinds of accident - this figure was 34 the previous year.

When age and gender were compared:

  • 97% of workplace fatalities were male workers;
  • 27% of workplace fatalities were to workers over 60 years old, despite them only accounting for 10% of the workforce.

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