The provisional annual data for work-related fatal accidents revealed that 137 workers were fatally injured between April 2016 and March 2017 (a rate of 0.43 per 100,000 workers), 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 leveling.
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.”
The new figures show that over half of fatal injuries (71) occurred in just three 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 in July 2016 which resulted in five deaths. Martin Temple continued, “As we approach the one-year anniversary of this incident, our thoughts remain with the families of those who died. We continue to fully support West Midlands Police’s investigation.”
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, 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.
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 in November 2017.
The HSE Chair added, “We deal daily with the causes and consequences of work-related deaths, injuries and ill health. Today’s updated figures continue to inform our understanding of which areas we need to target. We concentrate our interventions where we know we can have the biggest impact. We hold dutyholders accountable for managing the risks they create in the workplace. This benefits workers, business performance, the economy and wider society alike.”
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