The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has recently released the provisional annual data for workplace fatalities for the year April 2014 to March 2015, revealing a slight increase on the previous year. 

During this time, 142 reports of employees suffering fatal injuries were received, a rate of 0.46 per 100,000 workers. This was a slight increase on the previous year’s ‘all-time low’ of 136, or 0.45 per 100,000 workers. 

In the highest risk sectors, there were mixed figures. In the construction industry, fatalities fell from 44 in 2013/2014 to 35 in 2014/2015, whilst agriculture saw a rise from 27 in 2013/2014 to 33 in 2014/2015. Waste and recycling saw an increase from 4 to 5 over the same period. Alarmingly, however, these industries continue to have respective rates per 100,000 of 1.62, 9.12 and 4.31, significantly higher than the overall national average. 

The HSE statistics also provide a geographical distribution of fatalities. These tended to follow trends as to where there were more higher-risk employees. 

William Broadbent, an associate in the personal injury team at Penningtons Manches, commented: “As the HSE’s chair, Judith Hackitt, has observed, it is disappointing to see an increase on the previous year’s figures but this must be set alongside the general trends for recent years. We have seen fatalities in the workplace fall by half during the past 20 years and, whilst an increase on last year, the figures for 2014/2015 were lower than any other figures in the past five years. 

“The UK is one of the safest places to work in Europe, with death rates amongst the lowest. Figures are however susceptible to statistical variation and it is hoped that this is the cause of this year’s slight increase. 

“The significant improvements over the past 20 years are testament to the work done by the HSE and groups campaigning for workplace safety. While there will always be higher risk jobs, with ongoing education and monitoring, it is hoped that even these will continue to see a decrease in death rates in the future.”