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Workplace fatality figures released for 2019 - 2020

sarah albon

The Health and Safety Executive has released its annual workplace fatality figures for 2019/20. The provisional annual data for work-related fatal accidents revealed that 111 workers were fatally injured at work between April 2019 and March 2020 (a rate of 0.34 deaths per 100,000 workers), the lowest year on record.

The construction sector has had the highest number of workplace fatalities over the last 12 months, with falling from height still recorded as the most common cause of work-related death. The latest HSE figures also highlight the risks to older workers, with 27% of fatal injuries occurring to workers aged over 60.

The data represents a fall of 38 deaths from the previous year, though it is likely that this fall was accentuated by the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on the economy in the final two months of the year.

In line with previous years’ fatal injury statistics, these figures do not include deaths from occupational disease. COVID-19 infection is therefore not part of these figures and will not feature in fatal injury statistics in subsequent years. HSE says separate data about deaths associated with COVID-19 will be available at a later date. While there has been a long-term reduction in the number of annual fatalities (the number has almost halved in the last 20 years), aside from the current fall, the number has remained broadly level in recent years.

Following the release, HSE’s Chief Executive, Sarah Albon, (pictured above), said: “No one should be hurt or killed by the work they do. In these extraordinary times, we have seen many workers risking their lives to help others during the coronavirus outbreak. Although these statistics are not a reflection on COVID-19 related loss of life, it is a pertinent time to reflect.

“Every workplace fatality is a tragedy and while we are encouraged by this improvement, today’s statistics is a reminder that we cannot become complacent as we look to continue to work together to make Great Britain an even safer place to live and work.”

Construction accounted for the largest share, with 40 fatal injuries to workers recorded. However, over the last five years the number has fluctuated, with the annual average figure being 37, which is around four times as high as the all industry rate.

The three most common causes of fatal injuries continue to be:

  • Falling from height (29)
  • Struck by a moving vehicle
  • Struck by a moving object

These three causes account for 60% of the workplace fatality figures in 2019/20.
The new figures continue to highlight the risks to older workers; 27% of fatal injuries in 2019/20 were to workers aged 60 or over, even though such workers make up only around 10%of the workforce.

In addition, members of the public continue to be killed in connection with work-connected accidents. In 2019/20, 51 members of the public were killed as a result of a work-connected accident in HSE enforced workplaces and a further 41 occurred on railways (enforced by the Office for Road and Rail). Typically, in recent years the number of such deaths has ranged between 12 and 16 deaths annually.

You can download the full details free here in PDF format.