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Written on 24th July 2023 by Kim Milan

Workplace safety watchdog, the Health and Safety Executive or HSE, has published its latest annual statistics on the number of British workers who have lost their lives in workplace fatal accidents.

The report, Work-related fatal injuries in Great Britain 2023 provides a provisional count of the deaths that were caused by accidents at work from April 2022 to March 2023 and were reported under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR).

How many people died in fatal accidents at work in 2022 to 2023?

HSE reported that between April 2022 and March 2023 in Britain, 135 workers died in work-related accidents. The number of work-related deaths was higher than the previous year, when working activity was reduced as a result of the pandemic, but broadly follows the trend from statistics for the pre-pandemic previous years. 129 (96%) of those who died in fatal workplace accidents were male. 

Of those who died from workplace injuries, 33 (25% or a quarter) were aged 60 or over, even though this age-group make up only 11% of the workforce as a whole. The disproportionate number of older people involved in these tragic accidents is also reflected in HSE’s 5-year figures which reveal that the rate of fatal injury increases with age. Compared with the rate across all age groups, the workplace fatal injury rate is twice as high for workers aged from 60 to 64, and that increases to 3 times as high for workers aged 65 and over.  

Which types of work had the highest number of workplace deaths?

Construction work had the highest number of fatal accidents, with 45 deaths or one third of all workplace fatalities for the year.  Agriculture, forestry and fishing work accounted for 21 deaths. The manufacturing sector and the transportation and storage sector each had 15 work-related deaths.

It is important that the individuals who lost their lives are presented by number in the annual statistics. Their deaths should have been avoidable and leave a lasting impact on their families as well as on the co-workers they have left behind.  If workplace health and safety is to be improved, however, it is also helpful to examine workplace injuries in a way that identifies and compares the risks from different industries, so that targeted action can be taken in industries where the safety risks are highest. HSE does this by reporting the rate of fatality or injury relative to the number of workers in that industry. This enables risk to be compared even between industries of vastly different sizes.

In 2022/23, agriculture, forestry and fishing had the highest fatal injury rate per 100,000 workers. Whilst there were fewer fatally injured agricultural workers (21) than in construction (45), agricultural work, including farming and tree work, had a work-related death rate that was 21 times the all-industry rate. By comparison, the (much larger) construction industry’s fatality rate per 100,000 workers was 4 times the all-industries fatal injury rate.  The waste and recycling sector’s rate of fatal injuries per 100,000 workers was also unacceptably high, at 10 times the all-industry rate.

HSE recently launched a safety campaign to increase awareness and safer working practises around vehicles on farms in response to the agricultural industry’s shocking injury rate statistics over the last five years.

What are the most common causes of work-related fatal injury?

In 2022/23 the most common causes of work-related deaths were:

  • falls from height, which killed 40 workers and accounted for 30% of all workplace fatalities;
  • being struck by a moving, flying or falling object, which killed 29 workers and accounted for 21% of all fatalities;
  • being struck by a moving vehicle, which killed 20 people and accounted for 15% of all worker deaths;
  • being trapped by something collapsing or overturning, which killed 12 workers;
  • contact with moving machinery, which resulted in 9 deaths.

Falls from height, being struck by moving objects and vehicles together were the cause of two thirds of all fatal injuries to workers in 2022/23 and have caused more than half of all workplace fatalities for at least the last 20 years.

In addition, to those who died in the course of their work, a further 68 members of the public were killed by work-related incidents in 2022/23. The majority of these (59) fatal injuries to members of the public took place in service sector settings.

The law requires employers and business owners to assess the risks of accidents and injuries to their workers from their workplace environment and systems of work, and to take all reasonable steps to reduce those risks, such as by providing a safe environment, planned work processes, equipment, protective clothing and training. Where the employer’s failure to do so results in an accident or serious injury, the injured worker or their bereaved family may be entitled to claim compensation.

If you have suffered a serious injury or the loss of a partner or family member as a result of the negligence of an employer, driver or other organisation, you can talk to a solicitor, free and confidentially, to find out more about obtaining rehabilitation and compensation by contacting us.