James Kenealey health and safety
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has released the lowest ever recorded number of workplace fatalities.
Between 31st March 2019 and the same date in 2020, the HSE's official figures listed a total of 111 individuals who lost their lives in workplace accidents, a 25% decrease on the 149 fatalities recorded in the 12 months previous.
This reflects an overall fatal injury rate of 0.34 deaths per 100,000 in Great Britain, a welcome continuation of the long-term downward trend which has occurred since 1981. The worst year since then was 1988 where the fatality rate was almost 2.5 deaths per 100,000 people.
The HSE clarified that the year-on-year fall in fatalities may not reflect a major shift in the inherent dangerousness of workplaces and could have been affected by the COVID19 pandemic which saw a great decrease in work activities in February and March 2020 before the nation was put into lockdown. However, the figures were already on track for a lower annual fatality rate.
Following the release, the HSE’s chief executive, Sarah Albon, said:
“In these extraordinary times, we have seen many workers risking their lives to help others during the coronavirus outbreak. Although these statistics are not a reflection on Covid-19 related loss of life, it is a pertinent time to reflect. Every workplace fatality is a tragedy and while we are encouraged by this improvement, today’s statistics is a reminder that we cannot become complacent as we look to continue to work together to make Great Britain an even safer place to live and work.”
According to the HSE stats, falling from height (29) and being struck by a moving vehicle (20) were the two most common causes of workplace fatalities in 2019/20.
The statistics also show a spike in construction fatalities (40) exceeding last year’s total of 31 and the five-year average of 37. Overall, construction deaths account for 36% of the year’s total.
The HSE plans to publish data on work-related COVID-19 deaths ‘at a later date’.
Gareth Morris, HSQE director at Morson, said:
“It is great to see that the number of fatal accidents is falling in the UK. Even pre-pandemic the trend was downwards. We however must remember that each statistic is a loved one lost, a household hurt, and colleagues traumatised. We must never stop striving to eliminate harm at work.”