Health & Safety

The Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) latest annual report captures statistics relative to work-related ill health, workplace injuries, health & safety enforcement action and the associated costs.  The report shows an increase in reports of mental health issues and a decrease in enforcement action by regulators.

Below is a summary of the key information; for a full version of the report please follow the link to the HSE’s website.

The report reveals that figures for work-related ill health remain broadly similar to that of the previous year, with around 1.4 million workers suffering from a new or long-standing work-related illness. A total of 23.5 million working days were lost due to work-related ill health. Of this, 54% were due to stress, depression or anxiety and 29% to musculoskeletal disorders (e.g. caused by manual handling, keyboard work or repetitive action).

The report further details that 602,000 workers suffered from work-related stress, depression or anxiety, which is up from 595,000 in 2017-18. Workload, lack of support, violence, threats or bullying and changes at work are estimated as the main causes.

Occupational lung disease, which contributes to an estimated 12,000 deaths per year, has stayed largely the same in terms of rate, with a slight drop in the number of new cases of breathing or lung problems caused or exacerbated by work (on average over the past three years) to 18,000.

 

The rate of workplace fatalities has also been broadly similar in recent years, with 147 people killed at work in 2018-19. Though the highest rates were found in Scotland (1.07 cases per 100,000 workers), the increase remains within the normal fluctuation that can be expected due to overall numbers being relatively small. The report does note that Great Britain consistently has one of the lowest standardised rates of fatal injury across the EU; lower than other large economies and the EU average.

 

Around 581,000 workers sustained a non-fatal injury (self-reported) and 69,208 employee non-fatal injuries reported by employers in 2018-19. This equates to 4.7 million estimated working days lost due to non-fatal workplace injuries; most of which being from slips, trips, falls on the same level or handling, lifting or carrying.

 

The HSE report estimates the total annual economic cost to Great Britain of work-related injuries and ill health is £15 billion, which mirrors the figure from 2017-18.The total costs include financial costs (such as loss of output and healthcare costs) and human costs (such as monetary valuation given to pain, grief, suffering and loss of life). The annual cost of workplace injury is £5.2 billion.

 

In terms of enforcement, though the average fine per conviction has remained the same, the report outlines that there has been a fall in the number of prosecuted cases where a conviction was achieved (to 364); a fall in the number of notices issued by enforcing bodies (to 11,040); and a fall from £72.6 million to £54.5 million in fines resulting from prosecutions taken or referred to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) in Scotland. For more information on fatal accident inquiries reported to the COPFS please see our Emma Dyson’s recent blog.

The statistics show that whilst Great Britain continues to be one of the safest places to work, there are still areas for improvement to prevent injuries, fatalities and ill health.

Lynn Livesey

Associate at Brodies LLP
Lynn is an associate within our Health and Safety team.She specialises in defending a variety of damages claims including employer’s liability, public liability, road traffic accidents, industrial disease and clinical negligence. She also specialises in the defence of potentially fraudulent claims.
Lynn Livesey