Falls top the causes of workplace deaths in 2023

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Forty workers lost their lives falling from height last year, eleven more than the year before that, and an increase of five on the past five-year average (35 deaths), HSE statistics show. Falls remain the most common cause of workplace death.

Most of the falls occurred in construction. Out of the total of 40 workers who died in a fall, 24 of them worked in construction.

These include 57-year-old Mark Smith, who worked in construction and 18-year-old Rory Brownlee, who also worked in construction.  

Names published alongside HSE’s statistics covering health and safety fatalities in 2022-2023, show how each of the cases was an individual – someone who went to work and did not come home.

Falls remain the most common cause of workplace death. Photograph: iStock

Total fatalities increasing?

In total, 135 workers were killed in the past year covering the period between March 2021 to March 2023, an increase of 12 on 2021/22 when 123 workers lost their lives.

However, HSE says that fatal injuries can ‘fluctuate year on year’ so the rise is not yet statistically significant.

The year 2021 was also still affected by the coronavirus pandemic, says the report and so in “statistical terms the number of fatalities in 2022/23 is broadly in line with the pre-pandemic level.” For example, the five-year average between 2016/17 and 2018/19 was 142 deaths per year.

Commenting, HSE’s Chief Executive Sarah Albon said: “Any loss of life in the workplace is a tragedy.

“While these figures show Great Britain is one of the safest countries in the world to work, safety must continue to be at the top of everyone’s agenda.

“Our mission is to protect people and places and we remain committed to maintaining safe workplaces and holding employers to account for their actions.”

Work related fatal injuries in Great Britain, 2023 report can be accessed here. 

The figures are provisional and are usually finalised by the end of the year.


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