- According to preliminary data released in July, 142 people were killed at work in the United Kingdom in 2020/21, up 29 from the previous year, while the number of deaths in 2019/20 (113) was low compared to recent years.
In terms of statistics, the number of fatalities has been relatively constant in recent years — the average yearly number of workers killed at work from 2016/17 to 2020/21 was 136.
The incidence of workplace deaths has decreased steadily over the last 20 years, proving that the UK is among the safest places to work in the world.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has released data on workplace accidents. They do not include deaths caused by illness exposure at work, such as Covid-19.
Sarah Albon, the HSE’s Chief Executive, said: “While the modern working world has generated new health issues for workers and those who have a responsibility to them, safety must remain a top priority. While the situation has improved significantly over time, and the United Kingdom is among the safest places to work in the world, every death is a tragedy; we are committed to ensuring that workplaces are made safe as much as possible and that employers are held accountable and take their responsibilities seriously.”
Workers falling from a height (35), being struck by a moving vehicle (25) and being hit by a moving object (17) continue to be the three most common causes of fatal injuries in 2020/21, accounting for more than half of all fatalities.
These numbers also underscore the dangers that older workers face, with about 30% of fatal injuries in 2020/21 involving workers aged 60 and up, although they only make up about 1% of the workforce.
In addition, people in the general public continue to be killed in work-related accidents. A work-related tragedy claimed the lives of 60 members of the public in 2020/21.
Mesothelioma, cancer caused by past exposure to asbestos and one of the few work-related diseases with a direct death count, claimed the lives of 2,369 persons in the United Kingdom in 2019. This is a reduction of 7% from the previous seven-year average of 2,540 deaths.
Occupational asbestos exposures that occurred before the 1980s account for the majority of current mesothelioma mortality. The result for 2019 is in line with predictions that a decrease in overall annual deaths would begin to show up around this time. However, how soon annual deaths will lower is yet unknown.
On the 16th of December 2021, the annual Health and Safety Statistics release will include a more comprehensive assessment of work-related illnesses and injuries based on the HSE’s entire range of data sources.