The reason our team of Health & Safety Consultants repeat the importance of carrying out risk assessments and implementing safe systems of work, is to minimise the risk of a fatality or serious injury occurring within your workplace.
The Health & Safety Executive have published figures in relation to the number of work-related fatalities within Great Britain during the period from April 2022 to March 2023.
- 135 workers died in work-related incidents; plus
- 2,268 mesothelioma deaths in 2021 through past exposure to asbestos.
The number of fatalities have been categorised into the industries listed below. As you can see Construction tops the list with 45 fatalities.
- Construction: 45
- Agriculture, forestry, and fishing: 21
- Manufacturing: 15
- Wholesale, retail, motor repair, accommodation and food: 15
- Transportation and storage: 15
- Admin and support services: 6
- Waste and recycling: 6
- Other: 12
Agriculture, forestry, and fishing has the highest rate of fatal injury per 100,000 workers of all the main industrial sectors followed by waste and recycling.
AFFECTED AGE GROUPS
Statistically, a quarter of deaths in 2022/23 were to workers aged 60 and over:
- Over 60 year olds: 33
- 16 – 59 year olds: 99
- Age not known: 3
CAUSES OF FATAL INJURIES
The causes of fatal injuries were:
- Falls from height: 40
- Being struck by a moving object: 29
- Being struck by a moving vehicle: 20
- Trapped by something collapsing/overturning: 12
- Contact with moving machinery: 9
- Other: 25
OVERALL DOWNWARD TREND
The total of 135 worker deaths in 2022/23 is higher than the previous year (123) but is in line with pre-pandemic levels. The figure for 2020/21 was 145.
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.
Great Britain is one of the safest places in the world to work.
MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC
68 members of the public were also killed following a work-related incident in 2022/23. This is a decrease of 20 from last year.
Any loss of life in the workplace is tragic and has far reaching effects on the deceased’s family, friends and work colleagues. Such an event can also adversely affect any work colleague who may have witnessed the fatality, or the aftermath of such a tragic event.
Any fatality which results from an accident in the workplace is likely to be the subject of an investigation by the Health & Safety Executive. Where an employer has failed in their duties under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and related legislation, the Company (and possibly the Company directors) could be prosecuted for breaching Health & Safety legislation or for corporate manslaughter. In some cases, company directors have been given a prison sentence.
Often, simple, cost-effective solutions can significantly reduce the risk of injury and the devastating consequences. The implementation of control measures are often a fraction of the cost compared to a serious accident. Since 2016, fines for health and safety breaches are based on a company’s turnover, resulting in significant fines for those found highly culpable.
Therefore, the message is that Health & Safety should be on your agenda at all times and should be one of your top priorities to ensure that the workplace is a safe environment for your workers and visitors.
If you have any concerns about Health & Safety within your workplace, please contact our Health & Safety team.
HSE has also published the annual figures for Mesothelioma, a cancer caused by past exposure to asbestos. The figures show 2,268 people died from the disease in 2021. This is a fall of 302 compared with the 2,570 deaths in 2020 and substantially lower than the average of 2,520 deaths per year over the period 2012-2019.
Asbestos-related diseases take decades to develop. Most people with them today will largely have been exposed before the tightening of controls and the use of asbestos was banned in 1999.
Despite the reduction in numbers, exposure to asbestos is still happening, with those involved in refurbishment, maintenance and similar trades, such as electricians and plumbers most at risk.
The current regulations state that where asbestos is present in buildings it must be managed, maintained in a good condition, and stay undisturbed; it is only dangerous when disturbed. Employers must take steps to identify the presence of asbestos in their buildings. A survey by a UKAS accredited company is advised, if asbestos is found a management plan is required to detail how you will manage the risk.
Regulation has led to a significant reduction in exposure and the number of people developing asbestos-related illness is predicted to fall as we get further from the date asbestos was banned in 1999, however employers must remain vigilant to the risk and manage it accordingly.