Every year the Health and Safety Executive release their workplace safety statistics.
In this blog, we are going to focus on one aspect of the annual figures – workplace fatalities.
Given how many people work in the UK – at the start of 2019 it was just over 31 million people – fatality rates are actually quite low. Obviously a lot of this will depend on the sector that people work in. The chances of a fatality occurring in an office are going to be drastically less than a building site for example.
So, this week we are going to look at:
- The previous year’s figures
- The new statistics for 2018/19
- How well health and safety is being enforced
Before we do that, we need to find out how these statistics are actually compiled in the first place.
How are the statistics compiled?
It isn’t just fatality statistics that are curated by the Health and Safety Executive.
They also publish data related to:
- Work-related ill health and disease
- Workplace injury
- Enforcement of health and safety legislation
- Working days lost and costs to Britain as a result of health and safety incidents
- Working conditions and management of health and safety in the workplace
The data itself comes from various sources which includes injuries reported under RIDDOR (The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations), The Labour Force Survey (LFS) and Reports of ill health by doctors and specialist physicians (THOR GP) amongst others.
This is all collected to give us the annual HSE statistics.
Figures for 2017-18
We look at the HSE statistics every year on this blog to give you an idea of how health and safety is improving in the workplace.
Before we get into the latest figures we’re going to go over the year before. In 2017-18 there were 141 fatalities at work in the UK. Over the past few decades, there has been a substantial decrease in the number of fatalities at work. For example, in 1981 there were 496 deaths at work in the UK and even in 1997, this figure stood at 287.
With the tightening up of health and safety in general and new regulations coming into force over the years, the number of fatalities has decreased significantly. This leads us onto the latest HSE workplace fatality figures – are we safer now than last year?
Latest HSE workplace fatality figures for 2018-19
There have been 147 people killed at work in the last year.
This is a slight rise on the year before. If we break it down by sector then it looks like this:
- 32 in Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing
- 30 Construction
- 26 Manufacturing
- 18 Wholesale, Retail, Motor Repair
- 16 Transport and Storage
- 25 Other occupations
Furthermore, 107 people who died due to their work were aged between 16-59 while 37 were aged 60 or over, The age of 3 people were not known.
In fact, we can go even deeper into the data and find out what accidents resulted in a fatality:
- 40 Falls from height
- 30 Struck by a moving vehicle
- 16 Struck by a moving object
- 14 Contact with moving machinery
- 11 Trapped by something collapsing or overturning
Even though there has been a downward trend with workplace fatalities since the 1980s, this figure has remained more or less the same for the past decade.
What about health and safety enforcement?
New legislation that was passed in 2015 meant that the rules around fines for health and safety breaches were changed.
Prior to this the maximum fine was set at £20,000. After this new legislation fines were uncapped meaning that they were related to the turnover of the company. This led to a substantial rise in the value of fines that were given to companies that suffered health and safety breaches as well as fatalities.
When we had a look at whether health and safety enforcement was on the rise previously, we found that some companies were being fined close to £1m for a workplace fatality. Again, this depends on the turnover of the company but the new legislation has prompted many businesses to take health and safety more seriously than before.
Make sure your health and safety training is up to date
Fatalities in the workplace are more common in certain sectors than others.
Obviously some jobs come with more hazards and dangers. Someone who works in an office is less likely to experience a serious workplace injury than a person who works in agriculture.
That being said, the number of fatalities compared to the overall number of people who are employed in the UK is low. We actually have one of the lowest rates in the whole of Europe.
While some workplace accidents and unfortunately fatalities can be unavoidable, many can be prevented by proper health and safety training. Most fatalities in the last year have been due to falls from height so it is worth taking a look at our specific Working at Heights Training or you can browse through all our safety courses and choose what you need to brush up on.
Which emerging or growing industry do you think will have the most negative H&S performance?