The Latest Fatal Injuries at Work Statistics from the HSE
Last week, the UK’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) published its statistics relating to fatal injuries arising from accidents in the workplace in Great Britain 2017, with figures covered to March 2017. The annual report provides an insight on the number of fatal injuries reported to enforcing authorities in 2016/2017 and includes fatal injuries to both workers and to members of the public. Of the 137 workers killed in the workplace during 2016/2017, the highest number, 30, worked in the construction industry, 27 in Agriculture, 19 in Manufacturing, 14 in Transport and Storage, 14 in waste and 33 spread across other sectors. While the number of fatalities in the construction industry is the lowest number on record for our sector, this number has fluctuated over the last five years with 47 deaths in 2015/2016, but an annual average of 39 for the past five years.
Taking a look at the types of accidents that resulted in fatal injuries, most were struck by a moving vehicle (31) while 25 involved falls from height (25), 20 workers died as a result of being struck by a falling or moving object. These figures are extremely relevant to the construction industry as a whole and to the roofing sector in particular.
When we take a detailed look at the rate of fatal injury per 100,000 workers, the statistics clearly show a long term downward trend over the past 30 years which seems to level off with the latest figures. Moreover, over a quarter of fatal injuries in the five year period 2012/2013 through 2016/2017 were to self-employed workers, working predominantly in the construction and agriculture sectors. This is double the rate of injury for those who are employed by companies, suggesting that the self-employed may be paying less attention to health and safety issues when working.
When compared with the workplace injury statistics for other countries within the European Union which has worked with member states on a harmonisation programme to deliver consistent workplace injury statistics across the EU, the UK consistently has one of the lowest rates of fatal injury. This is good news for us right now and all of us working in construction (and in all other sectors) will need to strive to ensure that this situation continues post-Brexit.
When it comes to fatal injuries suffered by members of the public as a result of a work related accident, a total of 92 people died in 2016/2017. Almost half of these deaths (43) occurred on railways and a further 14 occurred in the health and social work sector. Comparison of numbers between years is complicated by recent changes in reporting requirements, however as since 2013, the requirement to report suicides to members of the public on railways (which accounted for a high proportion of railway deaths) was removed.
The total figures for fatal injuries is subject to a degree of randomness and chance due to changing conditions from year to year. However, every single fatality is a tragedy that has both social costs and a personal cost to those directly affected.