Occupational Injuries, Illnesses Continue to Decline in U.K., but Fatalities Rise

Nov. 14, 2011
In the United States, occupational injuries and illnesses have, generally, been on the decline in recent years. The same appears to hold true in Britain: According to new data released by the U.K.'s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in early November, work-related injuries and illnesses continue to decrease.

In contrast to the declining injury rates, however, worker fatalities increased – from 147 deaths last year to 171 during this more recent period.

"The fall in the number of people being injured by work is of course to be welcomed but we did also see an increase in the number of fatalities during the year," said Judith Hackitt, HSE's Chair. "Britain can be proud that it has one of the best health and safety records in Europe, but as the increase in the number of fatalities makes clear, we can never let up in our commitment to addressing the serious risks which continue to cause death and injury in workplaces."

HSE's latest injury and illness figures show that in Britain, between April 2010 and March 2011:

· 24,726 major occupational injuries were reported, such as amputations, fractures and burns, which is a rate of 99 injuries per 100,000 workers. In 2090/2010, the recorded number of injuries was 26,268.
· 90,653 other injuries serious enough to keep people off work for 4 or more days were reported. This is a rate of 363.1 injuries per 100,000 workers – down from 96,427 the previous year.
· An estimated 1.2 million people said they were suffering from an illness caused or made worse by their work, down from 1.3 million in 2009/10. Of these, 500,000 were new illnesses being reported for the first time.
· The construction (173.2 major injuries per 100,000 employees) and agricultural (221.9 major injuries per 100,000 employees) industries continued to report the highest levels of work-related injuries, with disproportionately high numbers of incidents.
· The toll of injury and illness resulted in 26.4 million working days being lost, an average of 15 days per case – 22.1 million to illnesses and 4.4 million to injuries.

"HSE will continue to work with employers, employees and other organizations to maintain and, where necessary improve, health and safety standards," added Hackitt. "We all have a responsibility to make sure serious workplace risks are sensibly managed."

For more information, visit HSE's statistics page.

About the Author

Laura Walter

Laura Walter was formerly senior editor of EHS Today. She is a subject matter expert in EHS compliance and government issues and has covered a variety of topics relating to occupational safety and health. Her writing has earned awards from the American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE), the Trade Association Business Publications International (TABPI) and APEX Awards for Publication Excellence. Her debut novel, Body of Stars (Dutton) was published in 2021.

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