Provisional figures published today (3 July) by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) show 30 construction workers died at work in the year April 2018 to March 2019. There were a total of 147 fatalities at work in all sectors during the year, slightly above the five-year average (although it is fairly consistant).
Although construction accounted for the second largest number of deaths compared with other categories, it employs a lot of people and is only the third most dangerous sector to work in measured by the number of deaths per 100,000 workers. The dubious honour of top place goes to agricultue, foresty & fishing followed by waste & recycling.
In agriculture, forestry & fishing the five-year average death rate is 18 times higher than the all industry average and in waste & recycling it is 17 times higher, while in Construction it is 3.6 times higher than average. Mining & quarrying has a rate around four times higher than the average.
There has been a long-term reduction in the number of fatalities at work since 1981. Although 2018/19 saw an increase of six workplace fatalities compared with the previous year, the number has remained broadly the same at an historically low level in recent years. It is also a low level in international comparisons.
Following the release, HSE Chair Martin Temple said: "Today’s release of workplace fatality statistics is a reminder that despite the UK’s world leading position in health & safety we cannot become complacent as we seek to fulfil our mission in preventing injury, ill health and death at work.
"These statistics also remind us that, in certain sectors of the economy, workplace death remains worryingly high... and more must be done to prevent such fatalities taking place."
"Whatever the sector, we should remember that any change in numbers provides little comfort to the family, friends and colleagues of the 147 whose lives were cut short this year while doing their job."
The three most common causes of fatal injuries continue to be workers falling from height (40), being struck by a moving vehicle (30) and being struck by a moving object (16), accounting for nearly 60% of all fatal injuries in 2018/19.
The new figures continued to highlight the risks to older workers, with 25% of fatal injuries suffered by workers aged 60 or over, even though they make up only around 10% of the workforce.
Mesothelioma, which is contracted through exposure to asbestos and is one of the few work-related diseases where deaths can be counted directly, killed 2,523 people in Great Britain in 2017. That is much the same as the five-year average. The deaths are largely a consequence of occupational asbestos exposures that occurred before 1980. Annual deaths are expected to remain broadly at current levels for the rest of the decade before beginning to reduce in number.
During the year there were also 92 members of the public killed in workplaces (excluding suicides and old people in care), mostly on the railways and in the health & social work sectors.
A fuller assessment of work-related ill-health and injuries, drawing on HSE’s full range of data sources, will be provided as part of the annual Health & Safety Statistics release on 30 October.