Decline in construction fatalities


Figures published by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), show 123 workers were killed in work-related accidents in Great Britain in the last year (2021/22), with 30 people killed in the construction sector. This is down from 40 in 2020/21, however, the five-year average for fatal injuries in the sector is 36.

The annual data release covers the period from April 2021 to March 2022, during which time most pandemic restrictions were lifted and the economy began returning to normal.

The most common kinds of fatal accidents to workers in 2021/22 continue to be falls from a height, being struck by moving vehicle, and being struck by a moving, including flying/falling, object. These accounted for over half (109) of all fatal accidents to workers in 2021/22.

While the number of construction-related deaths fell to 30, down on last year’s figure of 36, agriculture, forestry, and fishing (22), and manufacturing (22); though agriculture, forestry and fishing has the highest rate of fatal injury per 100,000 workers.

The three most common causes of fatal injuries continue to be falling from height (29), being struck by a moving vehicle (23), and being struck by a moving object (18).

The 123 worker deaths in 2021/22 is lower than the previous year, though it is in line with pre-pandemic figures. There has been a long-term downward trend in the rate of fatal injuries to workers, though in the years prior to the coronavirus pandemic the rate was broadly flat.

The release of the HSE’s annual figures coincides with the 50th anniversary this month of the publication of the Robens report. The landmark report led to the Health and Safety at Work Act in 1974, which ultimately led to the HSE being set up the following year.

Since then, Great Britain has become one of the safest places in the world to work with the number of workplace deaths and injuries falling significantly.

Commenting on the figures, HSE’s chief executive Sarah Albon said: “While Great Britain is one of the safest countries in the world to work, today’s figures show we must continue to ensure safety remains a priority. Every loss of life is a tragedy, and we are committed to making workplaces safer and holding employers to account for their actions, as part of our mission to protect people and places.”

The figures relate to work-related accidents and do not include deaths arising from occupational diseases or diseases arising from certain occupational exposures (including Covid-19).

The HSE has also published the annual figures for Mesothelioma, which is a cancer that can be caused by past exposure to asbestos. The figures show that 2,544 people died from the disease in 2020. This is in line with the average of 2,523 deaths over the previous eight years. Current mesothelioma deaths reflect exposure to asbestos that mainly occurred before the 1980s and annual deaths are expected to decline during the next decade.

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