Still more than 140 people killed at work last year

8 July 2021

With the average annual number of workers killed at work over the five years 2016/17 to 2020/21 being 136, the provisional data showing that 142 were killed at work in Great Britain in 2020/21 is broadly in step with recent trends.

While it was an increase of 29 from the previous year, the number of deaths in 2019/20 (113) was unusually low.

The data on workplace fatal injuries released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) does not include deaths arising from occupational exposure to disease, including Covid-19 (although it has been argued that is should: see Call for Covid-19 to be recognised as an occupational disease).

Over the past 20 years there has been a long-term reduction in the number of workplace fatalities.

Key points from the new statistics

  • The three most common causes of fatal injuries continue to be workers falling from height (35), being struck by a moving vehicle (25) and being struck by a moving object (17), accounting for more than half of fatalities in 2020/21.

  • Around 30% of fatal injuries in this period involving workers aged 60 or over, even though such workers make up only around 11% of the workforce.

  • Members of the public continue to be killed in connection with work-related incidents. In 2020/21, 60 were killed as a result of a work-related incident.

  • While 2369 people died in Great Britain in 2019 as a result of mesothelioma, this is 7% less than the average of 2540 deaths over the previous seven years and would seem to indicate that figures will begin to fall, as they reflect occupational asbestos exposures that occurred before the 1980s.

The HSE’s Chief Executive, Sarah Albon, said: “Whilst the picture has improved considerably over the longer term and Great Britain is one of the safest places to work in the world, every loss of life is a tragedy, we are committed to ensuring that workplaces are as safe as they can be and that employers are held to account and take their obligations seriously”.