UK: 36 Million Work Days Lost to Workplace Injury and Illness

The U.K. Health and Safety Commission (HSC) has published the latest statistics on work-related illnesses and injuries in Great Britain, showing that there were 36 million work days lost during the 2006-2007 period.

Health and Safety Statistics 2006/07 reveals that the average absence per employee was 1.5 days a year, which was a significant increase from the approximately 1.3 days lost per year in 2005-2006. An estimated 30 million days were lost due to work-related ill health and 6 million due to workplace injury.

In addition, the report, which showed there was an overall 4 percent decline in workplace injuries in the United Kingdom, also revealed there were 241 fatal injuries to workers and 141,350 reported major injuries to employees leading to more than 3 days off work. Although the longer-term trend in the fatal injury rate is downwards, there has been little change over the last 5 years, according to the HSC.

Of the main industrial sectors, construction and agriculture have the highest rates of fatal injury. During 2006-2007, these two sectors together account for 46 percent of fatal injuries to workers, with 77 and 34 fatalities respectively.

Moreover, there was an estimated 2.2 million people suffering from an illness they believed was caused or made worse by their current or past work during 2006-2007. Around three-quarters of the cases involved musculoskeletal disorders, stress, depression or anxiety.

HSC Chair Judith Hackitt pointed out that the number of offenses prosecuted by HSE increased to 1,141, up from 1,056 in 2005-2006. The number of convictions increased in 2006-2007 to 848 from 840 in 2005-2006.

“We use a range of enforcement measures to tackle workplace ill-health and injuries and we do not hesitate to prosecute where necessary,” she said. “The rising enforcement figures show that negligence in workplace health and safety is not tolerated.”

“We want to continue this,” she added.

Other key facts in the report include:

  • 646,000 of the 2.2 million people suffering from workplace-related illness were new cases that arose in the last 12 months.
  • 2,037 people died of mesothelioma in 2005 (latest data), and thousands more from other occupational cancers and lung diseases.

Health and Safety Statistics 2006/07 is available at http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/overall/hssh0607.pdf. Statistics for workplace fatalities during 2006-2007 were released in July 2007. For more, please read "U.K. Construction Fatalities at 5-Year High."

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