The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have released their statistics for fatal work-related incidents from the year 2022-23, highlighting disproportionate deaths in the construction sector when compared with other industries. 

Although construction stood out as the leading figure over the past year, over the past 5 years the major leader in work related deaths is the agriculture industry, standing some distance ahead of construction over the long term. 

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) urged the government to reverse the cuts to the HSE, to stop “old accidents happening to new people” as falling from height led the statistics as the most common fatal injury. 

The RoSPA stressed the need to protect workers against new emerging dangers moving forward, and that the amount of lives lost to preventable accidents that have been seen throughout the year are evidence of a step backwards. 

“RoSPA’s data analysis shows that when it comes to fatal injuries at work the last decade has seen a near 50 per cent fall in progress. 

“While 1990-2010 saw success with a 68 per cent reduction[1] in fatal injuries at work, recent years have seen progress stall, with 2010-2022 witnessing a mere 36 per cent reduction.”

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has experienced significant budget cuts over the last decade, with 2020-2021 43 per cent down on 2009-2010, and staff cut by 35 per cent since 2010.

Deaths by injury 

The leading cause of death over the past year was height, with falling from height accounting for 40 fatal injuries, 30% of all workplace injuries over all industries.

Following in second place was being struck by a moving vehicle, although that came in a significant margin, half of the contribution provided by height to the yearly statistics. 

Deaths by industry

The two leading industries in terms of fatal workplace accidents are the construction and agriculture industries, although over the past year deaths in the construction industry were more than double that of agriculture. 

However, when these figures are analysed through the lens of fatal injury per 100,000 workers, Agriculture, forestry and fishing stand out by a significant margin, with an average of 7.87 over the past year, when compared with the construction industries 2.10. 

Even though construction isn’t the most dangerous industry across the five past years, they still stand a strong second and have four times more fatal workplace accidents than the average across all industries. 

Karen McDonnell, RoSPA’s OSH Policy Advisor, expressed concern over the data:

“We are concerned that the tremendous progress made in UK workplace safety has stalled, with statistics showing we’re reducing fatal injuries at almost half the rate we were between 1990 and 2010. 

“Any loss of life in the workplace is a tragedy, and while Britain is one of the safest countries in the world to work, it’s deeply concerning that people are still having the same accidents that their parents or grandparents had. 

 “Unfortunately, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has experienced significant budget cuts over the last decade, which could feasibly lead to an inability to deliver advisory and regulatory functions and justice for victims.

 “We therefore ask the question, if we can’t stop old accidents happening to new people with the resource we have, how can we expect the HSE to effectively tackle emerging risks, such as the growth of the gig economy, worsening mental health and the move towards net zero? 

 “We urge the Government to address the ticking timebomb of workplace injury and ill-health by raising its investment in the HSE so it can effectively protect lives, livelihoods, and Britain’s businesses. Only then can the UK retain its status as a beacon of health and safety.”