Construction now most dangerous industry

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has released the latest figures for accidents and injuries suffered at work in 2019/20.

2019/20 has seen the lowest number of fatal accidents in the workplace on record, at 149. This is significantly lower than the 149 seen the previous year.

The figures come after Covid-19 lockdown measures resulted in the closure of businesses across the country – many of them in more dangerous sectors.

Worst industries for deaths at work

According to the HSE, the construction sector saw the highest number of people killed at work. A total of 40 people working in the sector suffered fatal injuries in the workplace.

Agriculture, forestry and fishing saw the second highest number of deaths, at 20. However, there are more people employed in the construction sector than in agriculture. This means that per 100,000 workers, the latter saw more fatal injuries – at 5.96 compared to 1.74 for construction.

Manufacturing saw the third highest total number of fatalities, at 15 in 2019/20. The industry’s rate of fatal injuries per 100,000 workers, however, was 0.52.

The transport and storage sector was responsible for 11 deaths, but this was a fatality rate of 0.69 per 100,000 workers.

Although waste and recycling saw five fatal injuries within the industry, the fatality rate per 100,000 workers was second only to agriculture – at 4.57.

Vulnerable workers

Male workers have consistently been more likely to suffer a fatal injury at work. In 2019/20, 97% of those dying after such accidents were men.

The HSE also found that although workers aged 60 and over account for only 10% of the workforce, they made up 27% of the workers suffering fatal injuries.

Per 100,000 workers, the rate of fatal injuries was highest for the age group 65+. These workers saw a fatality rate of 1.77, while the average across all ages was 0.42.

Most dangerous accidents

The most dangerous accident to be suffered at work was falling from a height. This killed 29 people. According to the World Health Organization, falls are the second leading cause of injury deaths around the world.

Moving vehicles were another significant threat to employees, with 20 people dying after being struck by one at work.

A further 18 workers died after being struck by a moving object in the workplace. This included objects falling from a height.

Being trapped by something that was collapsing or overturning killed 15 people, while coming into contact with moving machinery caused 11 fatal injuries to workers.

Annual figures

The HSE said that these statistics may have been lower than the average for the last few years because of the pandemic, stating that “it is likely that the impact of Covid-19 will have contributed to this”.

Whether numbers of fatal injuries rise again after the country is no longer facing lockdowns remains to be seen.

But it is important to remember that many businesses may face economic pressures that prevent them employing the amount of people they previously did. Fewer people in the workplace will undoubtedly have an impact on the number of injuries – both fatal and not.

Image copyright: ME Image