The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the independent workplace safety regulator which protects employees from harm by enforcing employer accountability for unsafe working environments, has published its annual report, Workplace Fatal Injuries in Great Britain 2018.

Which sector has the most fatal workplace injuries?

The provisional statistics reveal a slight increase in work-place deaths in 2017/2018 compared to the previous year. 144 workers were fatally injured. The construction industry recorded the largest number of fatal injuries overall - 38 construction workers were killed. The waste and recycling and agricultural sectors had the highest fatal injury rates per 100,000 workers.

Fatal injuries to workers whilst travelling on a public highway or whilst commuting, travelling by sea or air, whilst on duty in the armed forces or through natural causes unrelated to work were excluded from the HSE report as these are regulated by the police and other authorities. Deaths from asbestos-related mesothelioma were also excluded, forming the subject of a separate report.

What are the most common causes of fatal injury in the workplace?

The HSE reported that the most common causes of death, across all industries, were due to:

  • falling from heights
  • being struck by moving vehicles
  • being struck by moving objects
  • being trapped by something collapsing or overturning
  • contact with moving machinery

Other causes included:

  • being injured by an animal
  • slipping, tripping or falling on the same level
  • drowning or asphyxiation
  • contact with electricity
  • exposure to fire

The UK consistently has one of the lowest rates of workplace fatal injury in Europe, but at nearly three ‘entirely preventable’ deaths a week, Craig Foyle, President of the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), described the number of fatalities as ‘unacceptable’, particularly given the additional numbers of serious injuries not covered by this report and the huge emotional and financial impact on the bereaved families.

The Health and Safety Executive’s stated mission is to prevent work-related death, injury and ill health in the belief that ‘everyone has the right to come home safe and well from their job’ – a sentiment that Boyes Turner wholeheartedly support.