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Sunday, 25 February

Illness and Injuries High Despite Death Rate Decline

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) released its annual figures for work related fatalities (April 2016 to March 2017)  on July 5, as well as a figure for the number of people known to have died from the asbestos related cancer, mesothelioma in 2015.

The provisional data revealed that 137 workers were fatally injured between, the second lowest year on record.

There has been a long-term downward trend in the number of fatal injuries to workers – they have halved over the last 20 years – although in recent years the trend shows signs of levelling.

HSE Chair 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.”

 

Health and safety statistics - key figures for Great Britain (2015/16):

  • 1.3 million working people suffering from a work-related illness.
  • 2,542 mesothelioma deaths due to past asbestos exposures (2015).
  • 137 workers killed at work (2016/17).
  • 72,702 other injuries to employees reported under RIDDOR.
  • 621,000 injuries occurred at work according to the Labour Force Survey.
  • 30.4 million working days lost due to work-related illness and workplace injury.
  • £14.1 billion estimated cost of injuries and ill health from current working conditions (2014/15)

 

The new death figures show the rate of fatal injuries in several key industrial sectors:

30 fatal injuries to construction workers were recorded. While this accounts for the largest share, this is the lowest number on record for the sector. However, over the last five years the number has fluctuated, The annual average for the past five years is 39. The annual average rate over the last five years in construction is around four times as high as the all industry rate.

27 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.

14 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 five years is around 15 times as high as the all industry rate.

The fatalities in the waste and recycling sector in 2016/17 include the single incident at Hawkeswood Metal Recycling Ltd in Birmingham on 7 July 2016 which resulted in five deaths.

 

Older and other deaths

The new figures also highlight the risks to older workers – around a quarter of fatal injuries in 2016/17 were to workers aged 60 or over, even though such workers made up only around 10% of the workforce.

There were also 92 members of the public fatally injured in accidents connected to work in 2016/17. Almost half of these occurred on railways with the remainder occurring across a number of sectors including public services, entertainment and recreation.

 

Mesothelioma

Mesothelioma, one of the few work related diseases where deaths can be counted directly, contracted through past exposure to asbestos killed 2,542 in Great Britain in 2015 compared to 2,519 in 2014. The current figures relating to asbestos-related cancer reflect widespread exposures before 1980. Annual deaths are therefore expected to start to reduce after this current decade.

Picture: More tears ahead.

A fuller assessment of work related ill-health and injuries, drawing on HSE’s full range of data sources, will be provided as part of the annual Health and Safety Statistics release on 1 November 2017

Article written by Brian Shillibeer

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