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Health and Safety statistics – what does it tell us?

The latest workplace figures for health and safety statistics have been published by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and provides some interesting reading.

Broadly, there were 1.4 million work-related ill health cases in 2018/19 and the annual costs of work-related injury and new cases of work-related ill health in 2017/18 (excluding long latency illnesses) was a cost of £15 billion.

In addition to the cost, the overall working days lost due to work-related ill health and non-fatal workplace injuries in 2018/19 was a total of £28.2 million. This, in itself, would prove to be costly to any business and not only financially, as inevitably employees being unexpectedly absent naturally has a knock on effect to other employees, productivity etc. The rate of self-reported work related ill health has shown a general downward trend but has been flat in recent years

Sadly, there were 2,526 deaths as a result of mesothelioma, with a similar number of lung cancer deaths linked to past exposures to asbestos. In addition, there were 12,000 lung disease deaths each year estimated to be linked to past exposures at work. These particular statistics released show that control of asbestos is as important as ever to prevent exposure. Experience has shown employers still neglect control measures in this area.

Work related stress, depression or anxiety also features in the summary statistics and identifies that public administration/defence is the sector with the highest rate of stress, followed by human health and social work, and education. These illnesses such as stress and depression has shown signs of increasing in recent years. Estimates of the main cause of work-related stress and depression suggest a mixture of workload, lack of support, violence, threats or bullying and changes to work. Again with non-tangible issues such as stress the solution is clearly seen as one that had a health and safety element to it – not a HR and medical one, which I think employers have been guilty of in the past confining it to.

The most common accident kinds are, unsurprisingly, slips, trips or falls on the same level followed by handling, lifting or carrying. The rate of self-reported non-fatal injury does show a downward trend. There were 69,208 non-fatal injuries reported under RIDDOR in 2018/19. RIDDOR reportable accidents mean that a notification is made to the HSE or the relevant council. That then means an inspection and possibly Fee For Intervention (FFI) costs or an improvement notice, or even a prosecution. If there is no accident then it is likely that there will be no (or reduced likelihood of a) visit by the HSE and further contingency resources being put into responding to something that could have been avoidable.

The statistics are certainly food for thought and provide a helpful summary for those in the safety industry to consider. A summary of the statistics can be found at and provide a useful one stop shop for these recent statistics.