HSE releases its key health and safety stats for 2021

Posted on 31st Jan, 2022 | By Lorretta Tatham

The Health and Safety Executive recently released their key figures for health and safety at work for 2021. Always an interesting release, the guide gives a clear indicator with regard to safety trends over the past year, and can provide a valuable reminder for businesses about the injuries and illnesses to be mindful of moving forward.

Naturally, one of the main issues surrounding workplace illness in 2021 was the COVID-19 crisis. This has forced companies to reassess how they work and protect employees, while also keeping their business afloat. A huge 93,000 employees believed they caught COVID from a work setting last year. Yet, even with these numbers, COVID was one of the smaller workplace concerns when it comes to health and safety.

Employers and employees are worlds apart

While workplace injuries have proved common during 2021, there’s still a noticeable discrepancy between what employees are reporting to the authorities, and what employers are. In 2021, 441,000 employees reported a non-fatal injury at work. Yet employers only reported 51,211 cases of injury themselves. Some of this could be put down to mere communication issues, but regardless, more needs to be done. Greater communication between both parties can help improve health and safety for everyone. Reducing the risk is key in all departments. Identifying unsafe equipment – doing ladder inspections, for example – is a sure-fire way of becoming more risk-averse.

The key stats

There are a number of important figures that have come from the HSE document. These are:

  • 142 workers killed at work
  • 1.7 million workers suffered work-related ill health
  • 0.8 million workers suffered from work-related anxiety, depression, or stress
  • 13,000 deaths from past exposure at work
  • 12,000 lung disease deaths related to past exposure at work

Each of these figures is somewhat concerning in itself, and the stat relating to fatalities is most worrying. It marks an increase of 29 from the previous year, yet the general trend-line is showing a decrease in deaths over the last 20 years.

Another startling fact is that mental health sickness now equates to half of the cases reported in the HSE report. The encouraging physical health stats are not backed up by their mental health counterparts, suggesting a clear need for employers to take mental health more seriously as we enter the next decade.

Which industries have the worst work-related ill health record?

There were, of course, some stark differences between certain sectors highlighted in the statistics. Top of the list came human health/social care. This sector, coupled with public administration/defence and education, has significantly greater cases than the ‘all industries’ average. There could be a number of factors in play, but one in particular may be because they are public-facing/dangerous roles during a pandemic, and stressful for the same reason. These sectors are significantly more dangerous than others.

One huge positive is for the construction industry, which is frequently thought of as one of the UK’s most dangerous industries. The injury/illness levels for that sector are lower than the average across all industries, and this should be celebrated. Construction is a highly regulated sector for safety, and those regulations and the work of management are clearly succeeding in helping keep workers out of harm’s way.

These sorts of reports are always useful for providing some food for thought, not least because they highlight the importance of providing up-to-date health and safety training to all members of staff who need it. Here at Browns Safety our courses cover a range of areas including height, manual handling, and asbestos. If you’ve got any questions, or you’d like to book your place, feel free to give us a call on 01282 615517, and we’ll be happy to help!

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