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Written on 20th January 2023 by Kim Milan

The HSE’s annual round up of injuries caused by accidents at work always reminds us why employers are required by law to provide their employees with safe working environments and systems of work.

Many of us will remember 2021 to early 2022 as the year the nation emerged from lockdown. The sudden and tragic loss of many thousands of lives at the height of the pandemic caused many to have covid-related fears about returning to work. In other news, avoidable accidents from breaches of workplace health and safety rarely grabbed the headlines or dominated the news. However, HSE’s figures for that year show that for more than half a million people in Britain, workplace accidents were the cause of injury, with 123 workers losing their lives.

What is the HSE?

The Health and Safety Executive or HSE is the national regulator for workplace health and safety. HSE uses its expertise to reduce and prevent work-related deaths, injuries and illness. It does this through its regulatory work, which includes raising awareness and influencing the way employers and workers organise and carry out their work, and also more targeted action, such as inspecting and prosecuting employers for breaches of health and safety regulations.

How many workers suffered injuries from accidents at work from 2021/2022?

Summary figures from HSE’s statistics for the year from April 2021 to 2022 show that in Britain:

  • 123 workers were killed in accidents at work;
  • 61,713 employees suffered non-fatal injuries in accidents at work, according to RIDDOR, but HSE warn that these figures are reported by employers and tend to severely underestimate the true number of injuries;
  • 565,000 people reported that they suffered a non-fatal injury at work according to the Labour Force Survey.

These figures relate to accidents rather than industrial diseases, such as mesothelioma. They also exclude rail-workers, whose injuries are reported to the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) instead of HSE. 

What are the most common types of workplace accidents which lead to injury?

HSE’s figures show that accidents categorised as slips, trips and falls on the same level, and lifting, handling and carrying caused nearly half (48%) of all non-fatal injuries to workers.

The full breakdown shows:

  • 30% of non-fatal injuries were from slips, trips and falls from same level;
  • 18% from handling, lifting or carrying;
  • 11% from being struck by a moving (or falling) object;
  • 9% were the result of violence;
  • 8% involved falls from a height;
  • 4% from hitting something fixed or stationary;
  • 4% from contact with moving machinery;
  • 2% from being hit by a moving vehicle;
  • 14% were from various other causes.

Which industries have the highest rate of injury to workers?

The industries with the highest accident rates, based on number per 100,000 workers, ranked from highest to lowest, were:

What are the most common accidents at work which lead to fatal injury and death?

HSE’s statistics relating to the cause of fatal injuries at work are grouped in five-year periods to give a more meaningful picture from the smaller numbers of fatal cases. In the five-years from 2017/18 to 2021/22:

  • 26% of fatal workplace injuries arose from falls from height, with more than half (52%) in the construction industry;  
  • 19% were from being struck by a moving vehicle, with around a third (31%) in agriculture, forestry and fishing, and one fifth (19%) in transportation and storage;
  • 14% (from various industries) were from being struck by a moving, flying or falling object;
  • 10% were from being trapped by something overturning or collapsing;
  • 10% arose from contact with moving machinery;
  • 4% were from injury by animals;
  • 4% from contact with electricity;
  • 2% from an explosion;
  • 2% from drowning or asphyxiation;
  • 2% from slips, trips or falls on same level;
  • 7% from various other types of accidents.

HSE pointed out that falls from a height, being struck by a moving vehicle or by a moving object accounted for 59% of all fatal injuries to workers over the last five years and more than half of all fatal injuries each year since 2001/2.

Looking at the impact of accidents at work on individual lives

HSE’s workplace statistics are important. They highlight risk areas by identifying trends. This can drive improvement in workplace safety to prevent further injury and help save lives.

In our work, however, each workplace accident is only part of the story for an injured worker, who may no longer be able to work, or to walk, or for the family who are mourning a parent or partner who lost their life.

For example, the roofer who fell from a height from an unsecured, sliding ladder, leaving him physically and psychologically injured and, in reality, unable to work. He needed surgery, rehabilitation and financial security, much of which we were able to secure from his employer’s insurers whilst we worked towards settling his claim.

Or the factory worker who was hit by a falling object, a metal shutter door, and needed rehabilitation, including physiotherapy, steroid injections and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for minor head injury, post-concussion  syndrome and chronic pain.

Or the mechanic who suffered a brain injury, leaving him unable to work, when he slipped on an oily floor as he worked on a customer’s car.

Or the delivery driver who was trapped beneath an overturning heavily laden cage injuring his spine,  leaving him needing rehabilitation and ongoing treatment for his psychological injury and pain, and unable to care for his disabled wife.

Or the healthcare assistant who suffered facial injuries, fibromyalgia and PTSD after being violently headbutted by her patient.

When a workplace accident leads to serious injury which would have been avoided with proper adherence to workplace health and safety systems, we can help the injured employee obtain rehabilitation and compensation for their injuries and related losses, such as loss of earnings or costs of therapies, treatment or care. Each case is handled by an experienced solicitor with skill and care, and each client is treated as an individual. There are no statistics here.

If you have suffered serious injury or the loss of a loved one as a result of an accident at work, you can talk to one of our solicitors, free and confidentially, to find out more about making a claim by contacting us here.