rise in deaths

New official HSE stats show a rise in fatal workplace injuries

Posted on 28th Aug, 2018 | By Lorretta Tatham

Last month, the Health and Safety Executive released its latest data relating to fatal injuries in the workplace for 2017/18, as well as statistics for 2016 in deaths from mesothelioma, the asbestos-related cancer. It shows a slightly concerning trend in the rise of fatal injuries from previous years, underlining the importance of having proper health and safety procedures in the workplace, and the responsibility of employers in maintaining them.

What do the statistics show?

The annual data is provisional so far, but it shows that 144 workers were fatally injured in the UK between April 2017 to March 2018. That’s a rate of roughly 0.45 per 100,000 employees, and notably exactly the same as it was in 2015/16.

These numbers include:

  • 38 deaths in the construction industry
  • 29 deaths in the agricultural industry
  • 12 fatal injuries in the waste and recycling industry
  • 15 fatal injuries in the manufacturing industry
  • 15 fatal injuries in the transport and storage industry

In many ways it’s no surprise that the highest numbers of recorded deaths have occurred in the construction and agricultural industries, as they are considered two of the most dangerous sectors in which to work in the UK. The average rate of fatal injuries in the construction industry is five times as high as the all-industry average, whereas for the agricultural industry it’s a staggering 18 times as high. The waste and recycling sector has a notably high average rate of fatal injuries too, with a fatal injury rate that’s about 16 times as high as the all-industry average – especially notable since it’s such a relatively small sector in terms of employment.


Although the total number of deaths has risen by nine since 2016/17, the good news is that it does little to disrupt the a long-term reduction in the number of fatal injuries since 1981. Though minor fluctuations are to be expected, the focus for UK employers should now be on making sure that this rise remains a small anomaly, rather than the start of a long-term trend.

What else can we tell from the data?

According to the HSE, in 2017/18 the three most common causes of death were: falling from a height, struck by a moving vehicle, and struck by a moving object. Taken all together, these types of fatal injuries accounted for almost 60% of the total throughout 2017/2018.

The latest statistics have also highlighted the risk to older workers. 40% of fatal injuries in 2017/18 involved employees who were aged 60 or over, despite the fact that this demographic only made up 10% of Britain’s overall workforce.

The deaths from mesothelioma have remained reasonably steady. Since the use of asbestos in building materials has been illegal for a number of years now, the current deaths can be mostly attributed to exposure that happened before 1980. For those reasons, the current levels are expected to stay broadly the same for the next few years, before eventually tailing off some time after 2020.

Here at Browns Safety, our utmost priority is on helping you to keep your workplace safe, which is why we offer a number of specialist health and safety training courses designed to make that task as easy as possible. This includes our Asbestos Awareness training course, geared towards educating delegates on exactly why asbestos is so dangerous, and how to mitigate the risks. Click on the link above to find out more, or give us a call on 01282 615 517 to book your place!

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