The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has published its annual work-related fatality figures revealing an increase from last year, with the construction sector again making up the majority of deaths.
The total of 135 worker deaths in 2022/23 is higher than the previous year (123) but in line with pre-pandemic levels when the figure for 2020/21 was 145.
The three most common causes of fatal injuries are falls from height (40), being struck by a moving object (29), and being struck by a moving vehicle (20).
Falls from a height, being struck by a moving vehicle and being struck by a moving, including flying or falling, object continue as the three main causes of fatal injury, between them accounting for over half of all fatal injuries each year since at least 2001/02.
Fatal injuries to workers are predominately to male workers. In 2022/23, 129 (96%) of all worker fatalities were to male workers, a similar proportion to earlier years.
In terms of age, 25% of fatal injuries in 2022/23 were to workers aged 60 and over, even though such workers made up only 11% of the workforce.
In terms of fatal injury rate, England consistently has a lower injury rate than either Scotland or Wales. However, injury rates are strongly influenced by variations in the mix of industries and occupations and in England there are a greater proportion of people working in lower risk jobs than in Scotland and Wales. The country injury rate does not make allowance for the varying composition of the workforce between these three nations.
Despite long term reductions in the number of workers killed by work activities, each year such cases continue, with 135 such deaths in 2022/23. This number compares with 227 twenty years ago (2002/03) and 495 in 1981 (prior to 1981 only fatal injury numbers to employees were reported to enforcing authorities)
(Excludes deaths due to work-related accidents to ‘patients and service users’ in the healthcare and adult social care sectors in England reportable under RIDDOR).
This is a decrease of 20 fatalities from last year’s 88 deaths and is statistically significantly below the pre-pandemic level. (Annual average of 107 deaths per year to members of the public over the four-year period 2015/16-2018/19).
The reduction in deaths to members of the public compared to pre-pandemic levels is particularly evident in the services sector, with 59 work-related deaths to members of the public in the latest year, (down from 75 in 2021/22), compared to
an annual average of 96 deaths per year over the 4-year period 2015/16-2018/19
HSE’s Chief Executive Sarah Albon explained: “Any loss of life in the workplace is a tragedy. While these figures show Great Britain is one of the safest countries in the world to work, safety must continue to be at the top of everyone’s agenda. Our mission is to protect people and places and we remain committed to maintaining safe workplaces and holding employers to account for their actions.”
The Institute of Occupational Health and Safety (IOSH) responded to the numbers by calling for “continued strength and efforts to ensure people are protected at work”.
In a press release, Ruth Wilkinson, Head of Policy at IOSH, said: “This data is a sobering reminder of the consequences of health and safety failures and that our efforts to prevent occupational accidents, incidents, ill health and diseases must not stop. These are 135 lives lost in one year. These are 135 families, friends and colleagues having to cope with a devastating loss. We cannot accept this.”