Posted on

Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics – What The Latest National Fatal Accidents Statistics Tell Us

The Health and Safety Executive (“HSE”) have just published their provisional fatal accident statistics for the 2018/2019 period.

It sadly records that 147 workers were killed in the period and a further 92 members of the public were also killed due to work related activities in the same period.

As with all statistics, sometimes the figures that aren’t recorded are more interesting than what is and this report is no exception. The HSE report makes clear that those who die in road accidents are not contained within these statistics as the enforcing authority is the Police and the Department for Transport compiles the details of fatal accidents.

A cursory glance at the Department for Transport figures shows that 1770 persons died in road traffic accidents in a similar period and is generally accepted that a third of them were at work or connected with work at the time of their death.

This substantially increases the total and perhaps gives a more accurate picture, as road deaths at work are of course very relevant to the overall picture if deaths at work.

Also 147 workers were killed in the UK when compared to other member states of the EU, this figure is second from bottom in terms of workers killed. However, organisations cannot be complacent when looking at these figures as deaths at work whilst driving are much higher and the HSE also acknowledge that occupational diseases, on average still takes the lives of around 13,000 people each year.

Some of the headlines from the statistics are worthy of consideration even if they do not give a completely candid analysis of the position.

Unfortunately, construction and agriculture, fisheries & forestry continue to be the most dangerous sectors of the economy for fatal accidents, with 62 of the fatal accidents incurring in these areas, closely followed by manufacturing.

It would be easy for those of us working in the service industry to become complacent and to view fatal accidents as the domain of such sectors of the economy as construction. However, administrative, retail, accommodation and food sectors had 28 fatalities in a similar period. Therefore, the risk of a fatal accident is not confined to occupations which may be stereotypically viewed as dangerous or inherently risky. What is clear is the actual nature and cause of the types of fatal accidents. The top three types of accident which account for 86 of the fatalities relate to falls from height and persons being struck by moving objects or moving vehicles.

Again, for those of you who have read my articles over the previous editions, I have been an advocate for clients to constantly review their most basic and fundamental health and safety arrangements. As they are more often than not the areas where risks continue to manifest themselves. The fact that sadly people still die from falls and being struck by a moving vehicle in the work place, should be one of the easiest risks to mitigate.

In conclusion, the statistics do give a salutary lesson in the fact that accidents do happen and compared to the work force as a whole are rare, but readers of my articles are well aware the aftermath of such an accident is not something any of us wish to contemplate.

Prevention is always better than reading the statistics next year and thinking a part of those statistics are made up of an accident your organisation had!