Earlier this month the Health and Safety Executive (“HSE”) published the provisional annual workplace data in relation to fatal accidents at work in the UK.

This Year’s Trends

This year’s data puts the number of deaths at work in 2014/2015 at 142, which unfortunately represents a slight increase on last year’s “all time low” of 136, which means the rate of fatalities went up from 0.45 per 100,000 to 0.46 per 100,000. The increase is not too worrying, as the small change from previous years still demonstrates a long term reduction in work place fatality seeing the number of incidents drop by 50% during the last 20 years and the number of deaths is 9% lower than the average for the past five years.  These provisional statistics will be finalised by this time next year. The incidents included in these statistics are mostly those that are reportable to the HSE under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (“RIDDOR”).

The Chair of the HSE, Judith Hackitt, said:

“It is disappointing last year’s performance on fatal injuries has not been matched, but the trend continues to be one of improvement……Every fatality is a tragic event and our commitment to preventing loss of life in the workplace remains unaltered. All workplace fatalities drive HSE to develop even more effective interventions to reduce death, injury and ill health.”

The report breaks down the number of fatal injuries in the key sectors:

  • Construction:16
  • Mining and quarry work: 1
  • Agriculture: 33
  • Manufacturing: 16
  • Waste and recycling: 5
  • Construction : 35
  • Services: 51

For further details of the circumstances of each accident see here.

The above figures do not include fatal accidents on non-rail transport systems which are enforced by the police and reported to the Department for Transport or fatal diseases. In relation to fatal diseases, the report notes that there were 2,538 such deaths in Great Britain in 2013 caused by the asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma.  The number of deaths caused by other occupation diseases can only be estimated.

How does the UK compare?

The UK average rate (over the three years 2009-2012) was actually the lowest amongst EU countries, according to Eurostat figures as reported by the HSE, with an average of 0.58 deaths per 100,000 workers. The highest country, according to the HSE’s report, was Latvia with 4.70 deaths per 100,000 workers.

The figures suggest that the UK is perhaps one of the safest countries, at least in Europe, in which to work. This doesn’t however provide a reason for celebration as 142 deaths in the past year is of course 142 too many.