Workplace fatalities fall in 2019

By Gwen Ridler contact

- Last updated on GMT

Workplace fatalities have dropped since 2018, according to the HSE
Workplace fatalities have dropped since 2018, according to the HSE

Related tags: coronavirus

Workplace deaths across the manufacturing sector – including food and drink firms – have fallen over the past year, according to the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE’s) annual workplace fatality figures for 2019/20.

Deaths in the workplace fell 42.3% to 15 during the reported period, with total deaths across businesses in the UK the lowest on record. The HSE said it was likely the fall was accentuated by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the economy on the final two reported months, which saw many businesses furlough staff or being forced to stop production.  

The agriculture, forestry and fishing sector also saw a decline in deaths, down 37.5% to 20 fatalities. Despite the decline, this sector continued to account for a large share of the annual fatality count. It had the highest rate of fatal injury of all the main industry sectors, around 18 times as high as the all industry rate.

Deaths from falls from height remained the most common fatal injury, followed by being struck by a moving vehicle and being struck by a moving object.

Older workers at risk

The latest figures from the HSE also highlighted the increased risks posed to older workers, with 27% of fatal injuries happening to people over the age of 60 – who make up just 10% of the national workforce.

HSE chief executive Sarah Albon said: “These statistics remind us that, in certain sectors of the economy, fatal injury in the workplace remains worryingly high.

“Agriculture, forestry and fishing accounts for a small fraction of the workforce of Great Britain, yet accounted for around 20% of worker fatalities in the last year. This is unacceptable and more must be done to prevent such fatalities taking place.

However, this year’s report did not include deaths from occupational disease, in line with last year’s injury statistics. As such, fatalities related to COVID-19 were not included.

Coronavirus impact

“In these extraordinary times, we have seen many workers risking their lives to help others during the coronavirus outbreak,”​ Albon added. “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 are 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.”

A fuller assessment of work-related ill-health and injuries – drawing on HSE’s full range of data sources – will be provided as part of the annual Health and Safety Statistics release on 4 November this year.

Meanwhile, Greencore health and safety specialist Mick Liddle outlines six tips to help prevent electrical hazards in the food factory.

Related topics: People & Skills, COVID-19

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