November 9, 2020

Health and Safety Annual Update With Statistics

Surprising statistics have come out during this year’s annual update from the HSE.

5th November 2020 will be remembered as the date that England went into its second lockdown in 9 months to stem the spread of the COVID-19. However, it is also the date the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) published their annual statistical update.

With the spread of the coronavirus, managing the health of the wider population has become a global priority. However, the new report from the HSE also highlights how traditional health and safety considerations, such as common workplace accidents, should be a top concern as well.

The figures show an upwards turn in the number of self-reported, none-fatal workplace injuries, which show that maintaining health and safety controls to prevent common workplace accidents are essential. More concerningly, it would appear a number of these accidents may be associated with industries often perceived to be of lower risk.

The key findings are:

  • 1.6 million working people suffering from a work-related illness
  • 2,446 mesothelioma deaths due to past asbestos exposures (2018)
  • 111 workers killed at work
  • 693,000 working people sustain an injury at work according to the Labour Force Survey
  • 65,427 injuries to employees reported under RIDDOR
  • 38.8 million working days lost due to work-related illness and workplace injury
  • £16.2 billion estimated cost of injuries and ill health from current working conditions (2018/19)

To note: Figures for March and April 2020 may be lower due to the initial lockdown. Lockdown will also have a knock-on effect for numbers reported this time next year 2020/21.

What the findings tell us

The most common causes of work related fatalities

The statistics contain some good news in that the number of work related fatalities is slightly down on previous years. Looking beyond the headlines, the data shows that Construction and Agriculture continue to contribute most to the number of fatal accidents – accounting for just over 50% of the overall numbers between them. These sectors are followed by Manufacturing and Transport.

Falls from Height continues to be the main cause of work related death (26%), followed by Struck by Moving Vehicle (18%).

The public and work-related fatalities

The HSE also reported that a further 92 members of the public were killed due to work activities. However this number does not show details on deaths relating to industries where health and safety is enforced by local authorities rather than HSE. It’s reasonable to conclude that the number of workers killed is roughly equal to the number of members of the public killed through work activities: roughly 220 to 230 people killed in 2019/20 in total.

Continued need for asbestos awareness

Over 2,000 people continue to die each year from previous exposure to asbestos resulting in Mesothelioma. Whilst asbestos has not been used in construction for over 20 years, these numbers show the need for continual vigilance.

What near misses mean for next year’s report

The drop in fatalities, whilst small, is always welcome news. However, anyone who investigates near misses will know that often it could easily have been a fatality or a serious accident.

Therefore there should be some concern that the rate of self-reported workplace injuries, recorded by the labour force survey, increased in 2019-20. This increase may indicate an upcoming surge in the number of serious accidents and fatalities in the next year or two.

Reporting of non-fatal injuries continues to record slips and trip type incidents as the main cause, accounting for just below 30% of the recorded injuries. Manual Handling related injuries accounted for just below 20% of the injuries in the year up to April 2020.

Which industries are most dangerous

When looking at the self-reported numbers by industry, there are some positive stories on reduced incidents of Ill-Health. However, in some industry sectors, the data shows a significant higher rate of Workplace Injury per 100,000 workers. These industries should treat this as a call-to-action to take greater care with their health and safety policies. This includes Agriculture and Construction, which has workplace injury rates well above the average rate of 1,770 per 100,000.

But also, some industries which may be perceived by many as lower risk also have rates above the overall industry rate, suggesting improvements are required. These sectors include Accommodation & Food Service and the Wholesale & Retail sectors. These sectors are currently being hit hard by the economic downturn and will likely to be loosing significant numbers of workers and managers in the coming weeks and months.

However, as the economy turns a corner and these sectors see an uptake in trade, business owners and senior managers will need to ensure that they still have the basic controls in place to minimise the risk of injury for employees, customers and members of the public.

Risk assessments and their impact on accidents

Something like 50% of injuries are likely to be a result of either a slip / trip, or a manual handling related incident. Both are not difficult to control and simple controls often reduce the exposure following a basic and proportionate risk assessment.

However, risk assessments will need to be reviewed for a number of reasons prior not least to account for reduced and changed staffing arrangement, workers undertaking tasks they may be less familiar with some of the activities they are asked to pick up to cover colleagues on furlough or no longer with the business. Any future influx of new workers with less experience of the required working practices will also need to be considered. Managers with risk assessment skills and experience may no longer be employed leaving competency gaps within the organisation.

Health and Safety Support for your business

The report above reveals how managers and employees must continue to be vigilant about health and safety practises beyond just being COVID-secure.

Whatever journey your business is taking, Moorepay can support you. Learn more about our H&S services or understand your business’ risk in this health and safety brochure.


Source: Health and Safety Executive, pages 7 to 13

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About the author

Philip Barker

About the author

Philip Barker

Philip has worked for Moorepay for over nine years, starting as a Health & Safety Consultant in February 2008 before taking up the position of Consultancy Manager in January 2015. Coming from a retail background, both as a store manager and health & safety professional, he already had a good cross industry experience. Working at Moorepay has provided an opportunity to broaden both knowledge and experience across a wide range of industry sectors. Philip started his health & safety career after a number of years managing retail stores and holds a HNC in Environmental Health Studies, a Diploma in Environmental Policy and a NEBOSH Diploma.

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