Latest HSE Statistics Highlight Increase in Fatal Accidents at Work

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Charlotte Rankin

Senior Associate Solicitor, Serious Injury Claims

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The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) regulates workplace health and safety in Britain. Its aim is to prevent work-related injury, fatal accidents and ill health. But, the latest statistics released by the HSE have shown that while there’s been a reduction in non-fatal work injuries, there has unfortunately been an increase in fatal accidents.

Workplace accidents are more common than you would think. According to The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), 565,000 working people sustained an injury at work during 2021/2022. Along with this, more than 61,713 non-fatal injuries were reported by employers during this time, with the most common types of accidents being:

  • Slips, trips and falls on the same level - 30%
  • Handling, lifting or carrying - 18%
  • Hit by moving object - 11%
  • Falls from height - 8%
  • Acts of violence - 9%

We’ll go through each of these areas in more detail below and explore the meaning behind the latest statistics. For more information tailored to your situation, get in touch with our Personal Injury team.

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Why has the Number of Fatal Workplace Accidents Gone up? 

In 2020/21, 441,000 workers suffered non-fatal injuries, which is a significant decrease from 693,000 in 2019/20 – but, in the years of 2022/2023 it then went up to 561,000 who reported a non-fatal injury. This rise could be because of people returning to work since Covid-19’s work-from-home message, but this doesn’t explain why the number of fatal work-related accidents has increased.

135 workers were involved in fatal injuries in 2022/2023, opposed to 142 work-related fatal injuries were reported to RIDDOR in 2020/21, and 111 in 2019/20. It’s important to note that because of RIDDOR’s reporting criteria, these figures don’t include fatal work-related diseases or fatal accidents on non-rail transport systems.

Fatal accidents are fortunately rare, but they can happen at random and there is a degree of chance involved in the final statistics at the end of each year, which could go towards explaining the increase. But what is actually causing these deaths?

 

What are the Main Causes of Death in the Workplace?

The main cause of work-related fatal accidents continues to be falls from a height, which accounted for 25% of fatal accidents reported in the HSE’s latest statistics. Some others include:

  • being struck by a moving vehicle;
  • being hit by a moving object;
  • trapped by something collapsing;
  • contact with moving machinery.

 

Who is the Most at Risk of Fatal Workplace Accidents?

Just over half of fatal injuries caused by falling from a height came from the construction sector. The construction industry also suffered the most workplace fatalities overall in 2020/21 and 2022/2023, followed by:

  • agriculture, forestry and fishing;
  • manufacturing;
  • wholesale, retail, motor repair

As well as highlighting the risk to construction workers, the HSE statistics also demonstrate the heightened danger for older and self-employed workers:

  • Older workers – around 30% of workplace fatalities in 2020/21 were of people over 60, despite only making up around 11% of the workforce in Britain. But in 2022/2023, this significantly dropped to 25% being over 60 – This is a similar figure to what has been seen in earlier years.
  • Self-employed workers – 33% of work-related fatal accidents affected self-employed workers, who make up 15% of the British workforce. This is lower than 5% compared to the previous years. In the five-year period of 2016/17-2020/21, 31% of fatal injuries were suffered by self-employed workers.

 

What has Been the Response?

After publishing the statistics for 2022/23, HSE reinforced their commitment to making sure employers are acting in the best interest of the safety of their employees. But they’ve stated that where employers fall short of the standards expected, they “.”

If you’ve lost a loved one because of an accident at work, the idea of taking legal action can be extremely daunting. Our expert team of Personal Injury lawyers are here to listen whenever you’re ready. We’ll help you work out the next steps to getting the support you’re entitled to.

 

Why do Accidents Happen in the Workplace?

Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, employers have a duty to provide a safe working environment for their employees. But accidents do still happen, some of the most common causes of workplace injury include:

  • Lack of training – it is vital that staff members are given regular safety training, especially when they are undertaking manual labour and lifting heavy items on a daily basis. Failure to provide this training can lead to employees inadvertently hurting themselves or their colleagues.
  • Failure to complete risk assessments – risk assessments allow employers to identify where employees could be at risk and take actions to prevent accidents from happening. If you suffer an injury at work and your employer failed to complete regular risk assessments, they could be considered as acting negligently.
  • Faulty machinery – in work environments where machinery is used, it is extremely important that equipment is tested to make sure it is working properly and is safe for employees to use.
  • No PPE – if you’re working in an industry like construction, you should be provided with sufficient PPE to keep you safe from debris including dust and wood chippings that could be thrown up into your face and eyes.

 

Employers have a duty of care to keep their employees safe, so under the law, they must:

  • Carry out a full risk assessment of the workplace
  • Address any health and safety risks that have been identified
  • Create a health and safety policy and make sure all employees are familiar with it
  • Provide adequate training to all members of staff
  • Provide a safe working environment, free of dangers such as slip and trip hazards
  • Provide safety equipment where necessary
  • Introduce a safe system of work
  • Make sure equipment and machinery is in a good state of repair

 

If an employer didn’t take reasonable steps to keep you safe at work, they could be deemed to have breached their duty of care. From 1 October 2013 the revised Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR 2013) came into force, which is the law that requires employers to report all work-related injuries. Mostly falling into the realm of construction and manual work, RIDDOR is in place to classify all major industries or specific injuries which would be from an accident at work – which are often slips, trips and falls.

Slips, trips and falls in the workplace are sometimes treated like a minor affair but according to figures under the Reporting of injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR), they account for 30% of the most common workplace accidents. Another worrying statistic is that under this research, just over 61,713 incidents were reported by employers in 2021/22, but self-reporting by actual workers for the Labour Force Survey (by the Office of National Statistics) claims there were substantially more, 441,000 in fact.

 

Contact Us

If you’ve had an accident at work and you were injured, our specialist Accident at Work Solicitors can help you.

We offer a free claims assessment with one of our Personal Injury Solicitors who can give you specialist legal advice and help you understand if you have a claim. Call us on 0808 239 4205 and let us help you.

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Charlotte Rankin

Senior Associate Solicitor, Serious Injury Claims

Areas of Expertise:
Personal Injury

Charlotte handles a caseload of Personal Injury cases dealing with Serious Injury, and has particular interest in Upper and Lower Limb disorders including Amputation of toes and fingers.

Charlotte also has management experience alongside her extensive legal knowledge, and regularly participates in Simpson Millar’s internal mentoring scheme.

References

Health and Safety Executive. (n.d.). Home. Retrieved from https://www.hse.gov.uk/

Health and Safety Executive. (n.d.). Statistics. Retrieved from https://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/

Health and Safety Executive. (2022). Health and safety at work: Summary statistics for Great Britain 2021/22. Retrieved from https://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/overall/hssh2122.pdf

Health and Safety Executive. (2023, November 22). HSE publishes annual work-related ill health and injury statistics for 2022/23. Press release. Retrieved from https://press.hse.gov.uk/2023/11/22/hse-publishes-annual-work-related-ill-health-and-injury-statistics-for-2022-23/#:~:text=The%20figures%20also%20show%20that,for%20workplace%20health%20and%20safety.

Health and Safety Executive. (n.d.). Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR). Retrieved from https://www.hse.gov.uk/riddor/

Simpson Millar LLP. (n.d.). Construction Worker Accident Claims. Retrieved from https://www.simpsonmillar.co.uk/personal-injury-solicitors/accident-at-work-claims/construction-worker-accident-claims/

Health and Safety Executive. (n.d.). Fatal injuries in the workplace. Retrieved from https://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/fatals.htm

Health and Safety Executive. (2022, November 23). HSE publishes annual work-related ill health and injury statistics for 2021/22. Press release. Retrieved from https://press.hse.gov.uk/2022/11/23/hse-publishes-annual-work-related-ill-health-and-injury-statistics-for-2021-22/

Health and Safety Executive. (n.d.). INDG453 - Involving your workforce in health and safety: Good practice for workplaces with fewer than five employees. Retrieved from https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg453.htm

Health and Safety Executive. (n.d.). Labour Force Survey (LFS). Retrieved from https://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/lfs/index.htm

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