The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has released its annual figures for the number of work-related fatalities in 2019/20, as well as the number of people known to have died from the asbestos-related cancer, mesothelioma, in 2018.
Sadly this year’s statistics show a total of 111 people were killed in workplace accidents between April 2019 and March 2020, (down from 147 last year and 144 the year before), with 40 of those fatal injuries happening to workers in construction (up by 10 from 30 deaths the year before).
111 deaths serves as the lowest year on record, with at least some of the fall likely to be attributable to the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on the economy in the final two months of the year.
While construction topped the list as the most dangerous industry to work in, agriculture, forestry and fishing accounted for 20 deaths, while in manufacturing 15 people were killed. Transportation and storage saw 11 deaths, wholesale, retail, motor repair, accommodation and food had 6 deaths, waste and recycling had 5 deaths, while administrative and support services was the only other category to rise with 6 deaths.
Falls from height were the biggest killer, totalling 29 deaths. Next was being struck by a moving vehicle with 20 deaths, whilst 18 people were killed after being struck by a moving object. 15 were killed after being trapped by something collapsing or overturning, 11 by contact with moving machinery and 18 by another type of accident.
The construction sector had made inroads in the safety stakes over the last couple of years, so the 2019/20 figures are disappointing. However the HSE is keen to point out that annual numbers have fluctuated in recent years. Over the last five years, the number of deaths has ranged between 31 and 47, with a 5-year average of 37 deaths per year.
While a number of these deaths occurred on large building sites, the risk of injury or death while working in residential properties should not be underestimated. With falls from height claiming the largest number of lives, the risk is very real, whatever the property.
Adhering to health and safety legislation may seem like additional red tape, but it literally does save lives. Ignoring health and safety regulations can result in injury, not just to you or your colleagues, but also your customers - especially in homes with more vulnerable people such as the elderly or the very young. In the 2019/20 period, 92 members of the public were killed as a result of a work-connected accident. Even a simple trip hazard can result in serious injuries, for which you might be found responsible.
Mesothelioma statistics 2018
The HSE also released the mesothelioma death statistics for 2018.
- There were 2,446 mesothelioma deaths in Great Britain in 2018, a broadly similar number to the previous six years.
- Annual numbers of deaths for years up to around 2020 are expected to remain at about 2,500.
- More than half of annual deaths now occur in those aged over 75 years. Annual deaths in this age group continue to increase while deaths below age 70 are now decreasing.
- There were 2,050 male deaths in 2018, a slight reduction compared with recent years, and 396 female deaths.
- There were 2,230 new cases of mesothelioma assessed for Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB) in 2018, of which 245 were female. This compares with 2,025 new cases in 2017, of which 235 were female.
- Men who worked in the building industry when asbestos was used extensively in the past are now among those most at risk of mesothelioma.
Your family and friends want you home safely each night. Think of health and safety as your insurance policy to help get you safely through the working day. The next time you are in a rush and considering skipping that risk assessment, or cutting a corner on a job because ‘it will never happen to me’ remember that just occasionally it does happen to someone and they probably thought the same way too.
Always work professionally, and always work safely.
For more information, download the HSE document Workplace fatal injuries in Great Britain 2020: https://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/pdf/fatalinjuries-20.pdf
For mesothelioma statistics, see: https://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/causdis/mesothelioma/mesothelioma-20.pdf