Britain’s most dangerous jobs: who is most at risk when they go to work?

The statistics are out and for many, they won’t make for pleasant reading. We now know which professionals are most at risk of a fatal accident at work.

For the majority of workers, accidents like this are a very remote possibility. However, in 2018/19, there were 147 deaths in the workplace. Some professions were found to be more at risk than others.

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Britain’s most dangerous industries are as follows:

Agriculture, forestry and fishing

In 2018/19, 32 people were killed in agriculture, forestry and fishing. It is perhaps not surprising that this sector tops the list, when workers have to deal with large vehicles and machinery and unpredictable animals. The industry saw an increase in the number of fatalities from the previous year, with 29 recorded in 2017/18.


The construction industry saw the deaths of 30 people in that period. These workers often have to work at significant heights, as well as with sharp tools and heavy moving objects and vehicles, which can all contribute to high accident rates on-site. There was some good news within the industry, however, as it saw a reduction in the number of fatalities, falling from 38 in 2017/18.


Third on the list of dangerous industries is manufacturing, recording 26 deaths in the workplace. This is up from the 15 seen in the previous year. There are a number of factors presenting a risk to employees in the manufacturing field, including moving vehicles, tools and heavy machinery. However, these aren’t the only threats to safety, with workers also frequently having to work in extreme heat, as well as with hazardous chemicals.

Transport and storage

Transport and storage saw 16 people killed while working, up from 15 in the previous 12 months. When road traffic accidents caused the deaths of 1,770 people in 2017/18, it follows that transport will present a threat to those working in the sector. Meanwhile, those working in storage have to face the risk of collapsing or overturning objects and confined spaces.

Admin and support services

Although it may initially sound surprising that admin and support services saw the deaths of 10 people, the industry does include services to buildings and landscape activities. These professions can involve dilapidated buildings and the use of power tools, leading to more risk than many others face at work.

Accident types

The most significant threat to workers across all industries is falling from a height. In 2018/19, 40 people died after falling. Moving vehicles are the second biggest danger, with 30 people dying after hit by one.

Being struck by a moving object caused the deaths of 16 people, while coming into contact with moving machinery was responsible for 14 people dying in the workplace. The fifth most dangerous accident at work involved overturning and collapsing objects, which killed 11 people.

Who is most at risk?

When it comes to fatal accidents at work, men proved to be most at risk. In 2018/19, 139 (95%) male workers died at work, which is a “similar proportion to earlier years”, according to the HSE.

Meanwhile, older workers were disproportionately at risk of suffering a fatal injury. Those aged 60 and over accounted for 25% of the fatal accidents at work reported in 2018/19, despite only making up roughly 10% of the UK’s workforce. Some 107 fatal injuries were sustained by workers aged 16-59.

What to do

When an accident happens in the workplace, it can be difficult to know what to do. You might feel conflicted – or afraid – of pursuing action against an employer. However, it is important to know that your employment cannot legally be terminated if you decide to pursue a claim for compensation after such an accident.

When you’re unsure about your situation, it’s advisable to seek out help. Specialist personal injury lawyers can help you work out the best course of action for your specific circumstances. They will help clarify any legal aspects you are unsure about, as well as drive forward any potential legal case you choose to pursue.

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