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142 worker deaths recorded last year, HSE stats show

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A total of 142 workers were killed at work in Great Britain in 2020/21, an increase of 29 from the previous year, according to HSE’s latest statistics.


However, the number of deaths in 2019/20 (113) was low compared to other recent years. In statistical terms the number of fatalities has remained broadly level in recent years.

The manufacturing sector saw 20 fatal injuries in 2020/21, an increase of seven from the previous year total (13).

In agriculture, forestry and fishing in 2020/21 there were 34 fatal injuries, an increase of 13 from the low of 21 seen in the previous year.

In agriculture there were 34 fatal injuries, an increase of 13 from the low of 21 seen in the previous year. Photograph: iStock

Seventy-seven per cent of all fatal injuries were accounted for by just five different accident kinds in the five-year period 2016/17-2020/21. Falls from a height, being struck by a moving vehicle and being struck by a moving object continue as the three main causes of fatal injury.

Fatal injuries to workers are predominately to men. In 2020/21, 138 (97 per cent) of all worker fatalities were to men, a similar proportion to earlier years.

A total of 60 members of the public were killed as a result of a work-related accident in 2020/21. This is statistically significantly lower than in earlier years and the report says this ‘almost certainly’ reflects lockdown restrictions on people last year. (It was 106 in 2019/20).

The statistics cover the months up to March 2021. Two notable exclusions are fatal diseases (including Covid-19) and deaths from occupational diseases.  

Commenting, Chair of the UK Hazards Campaign, Janet Newsham, said the jump in workplace deaths on last year was concerning.

"It is a huge increase in fatalities reportable through RIDDOR. The Hazards Campaign says this is because HSE isn't carrying out sufficient preventive inspections, isn't holding bad employers to account, and hasn’t sufficient resources to carry out the enforcement needed to protect workers and prevent these incidents."

UNISON national health and safety officer Kim Sunley said: "The pandemic has highlighted how many people across the UK face serious health risks just by doing their daily jobs.

 “Employers must do more to keep staff safe and that includes properly recording exposure to Covid-19. Ministers must also invest in the underfunded Health and Safety Executive so it can ensure regulations are enforced.” 

Read the Workplace Fatal Injuries in Great Britain, 2021 report here

 

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