If you have a health and safety or management role, you may have seen a number of articles concerning the HSE report. I hope that this article will provide a useful document to summarise the key facts and figures including that of trends in recent years.
We have reported previously that the fatal statistics published by the HSE have shown a general flattening of work place fatalities from 2008/2009 through to 2020. Having said that, this year’s rate of fatal injury is the lowest on record (since records began in 1981) showing a rate of fatal injury (per 100,000 workers) of 0.34.
Once again, the highest number of fatalities by main industry group is that of construction. This is followed by agriculture; forestry and fishing; manufacturing; transport and storage; wholesale; retail; motor repair; accommodation and food.
Another trend which is common to see when looking at the annual statistics is that falls from height are the highest number of fatal injuries to workers by the kind of accident.
To summarise the fatal injury statistics, once again the figures show a long term trend of being broadly flat. It seems apparent that this year’s and next year’s figures will be impacted by the COVID-19 restrictions placed throughout the country and may, in turn, show a disproportionate reduction in workplace fatalities as a result of this. This is something to consider, not only with statistics of fatalities having taken place, but also when managing work places returning to work and the risk of harm following an absence be that through a compulsory lockdown or perhaps through self-isolation or long term illness.
Work Related Ill Health
The key figures here show that 1.6million working people are suffering from a work related illness and 38.8million working days have been lost due to work related illness and workplace injury.
Of those 1.6million workers, the statistics show those workers identified with stress, depression or anxiety account for 51% of work related ill health. 2019/20 figures show that the rate of work related ill health per 100,000 workers has increased this year following a broadly flat trend in previous years. In particular, the rate of self-reported work related stress, depression or anxiety has increased in recent years and again is shown in the statistics 2019/20. The HSE statistics state that work load, lack of support, violence, threats or bullying and changes at work are estimated to be the main causes of work related stress, depression or anxiety. It sets out that 17.9million working days due were lost due to work related stress, depression or anxiety in 2019/20.
It is apparent from the HSE that they are concerned about the rise in figures and have provided additional guidance in respect of managing the risk of this type of workplace illness.
Mental health has always been a difficult risk to manage as it is intangible and no one size fits all approach is applicable. It is important that you are aware of the statistics and increases in these types of work related illnesses to allow you to review your policies. It is important that your employees are supported and not suffering as a result of work. An aggravating factor will be that of COVID-19 and the impact this has had on all of our lives both personally and professionally. Please bear in mind that just because the impact of Covid-19 has affected everybody, this does not relieve you of your obligations under health and safety law.
The HSE have prosecuted 325 cases that have resulted in a conviction in 2019/20. £35.8million of fines resulted from prosecutions taken by the HSE where a conviction was achieved in 2019/20.
Despite the eye-watering figures above, this year has seen a fall in the number of cases prosecuted by the HSE which continues a trend from 2014/5. In addition, enforcement notices issued by the HSE have decreased.
The HSE have made it very clear that enforcement has not stopped as a result of COVID-19 and the restrictions placed upon it. It is likely that we will see in the coming years enforcement related to COVID-19 and the measures put in place by organisations scrutinised.
To conclude, the key points from these annual statistics are as follows:
- The number of workers killed at work in 2019/20 is 111.
- The most common type of fatality in 2019/20 is that of a fall from height.
- Mental health is of concern and on the increase in relation to work related ill health.
- £35.8million was recovered in fines, which is a decrease on previous years.
It’s important to review these figures annually to understand long term trends and where increases/decreases are occurring. COVID-19 has had an impact on almost all elements of our lives, including that of health and safety statistics. The sharp increase in mental illness as a result of work is something that should be taken very seriously by organisations. It is important that you ensure communication with everyone at work and take a bespoke approach to individuals concerned with your organisation.
If you would like to view a summary of the statistics from the HSE, then please follow this link:
If you have any questions or concerns about your health and safety requirements, then please contact the regulatory team at Woods Whur on 0113 234 3055 or firstname.lastname@example.org.