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A hundred and twenty-three workers were killed in work-related accidents in Great Britain in the last year, according to figures published by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

 

The annual data release covers the period from April 2021 to March 2022, during which time most pandemic restrictions were lifted and the economy began returning to normal.

The industries with the highest deaths were construction (30), agriculture, forestry and fishing (22), and manufacturing (22); though agriculture, forestry and fishing has the highest rate of fatal injury per 100,000 workers.

The three most common causes of fatal injuries continue to be falling from height (29), being struck by a moving vehicle (23), and being struck by a moving object (18). 

The 123 worker deaths in 2021/22 is lower than the previous year, though it is in line with pre-pandemic figures. There has been a long-term downward trend in the rate of fatal injuries to workers, though in the years prior to the coronavirus pandemic the rate was broadly flat.

A further 80 members of the public were killed following a work-related accident in 2021/22.  This is an increase on the previous year but below the pre-pandemic level. This is likely to reflect the various COVID-19 restrictions in place.

 

The release of the annual figures coincides with the 50th anniversary this month of the publication of the Robens report. The landmark report led to the Health and Safety at Work Act in 1974, which ultimately led to the HSE being set up the following year.

Since then, Great Britain has become one of the safest places in the world to work with the number of workplace deaths and injuries falling significantly.

Sarah AlbonHSE’s Chief Executive Sarah Albon said: “While Great Britain is one of the safest countries in the world to work, today’s figures show we must continue to ensure safety remains a priority. Every loss of life is a tragedy, and we are committed to making workplaces safer and holding employers to account for their actions, as part of our mission to protect people and places.”

The figures relate to work-related accidents and do not include deaths arising from occupational diseases or diseases arising from certain occupational exposures (including COVID-19).

 

The HSE has also published the annual figures for Mesothelioma, which is a cancer that can be caused by past exposure to asbestos. The figures show that 2,544 people died from the disease in 2020. This is in line with the average of 2,523 deaths over the previous eight years. Current mesothelioma deaths reflect exposure to asbestos that mainly occurred before the 1980s and annual deaths are expected to decline during the next decade.

In response to this news, Ruth Wilkinson, Head of Health and Safety at the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), said: “This reduction in the number of workplace fatal injuries is no cause for celebration. The bare fact is that 123 people lost their lives in 2021-22 because of a workplace accident, and we can’t forget the unimaginable pain and impact caused to their loved ones, friends and colleagues. “This is not acceptable and we are calling on businesses to review how they protect their workforce, to ensure they leave no stone unturned in their efforts to prevent workplace accidents, injuries and ill health.  “One death at work is one too many. Every working person should expect they can carry out their duties in a safe and healthy way and in a safe and healthy working environment.”

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