144 workers were killed in 2017-2018 in workplace accidents in Great Britain. The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has released annual statistics reporting on fatal accidents as part of a long running series of reports which continue to provide us with a snapshot of progress over the years and key areas where improvements can be made.

The HSE report examines the deaths by industry, accident kind, gender and age, employment status and compares with other countries.

Something for Employers to consider

Whilst there is a degree of chance and randomness to the fatal injury counts, employers can consider the results of this report as a forewarning, particularly for those working within the construction, waste and agricultural industries. Accidents are more likely to happen in these areas and whilst measures should be in place to prevent all accidents, employers should pay particular care where they have (i) workers who are self-employed, (ii) where they may work at height and (iii) where workers are aged 60 or over.

Accidents by Industry

Construction and agricultural industries account for the greatest number of fatalities each year. This has been a consistent trend over the last 4 annual reports. Together, these two industries make up almost a half of the total deaths per year.

The other industry groups identified are manufacturing, transportation and storage, waste & recycling, communications, business services and finance and other industry sectors (including, for example, electricity, gas, mining and quarrying, repair of motor vehicles etc).

However, whilst as a whole, the construction and agricultural industries dominate the statistics for total deaths, when examining the deaths as a rate per every 100,000 workers, agriculture and waste come out worse with a rate of injury some 18 and 16 times as high as the average across all industries respectively. The rate for deaths in construction is around four times as high as the average rate.

Accident Kind

There are five major accident kinds that dominate around three quarters of all fatalities in the workplace which are:- falls from height, struck by a moving vehicle or object, trapped by something (including something collapsing or overturning), contact with moving machinery and other kinds (e.g. injury by animals, slips trips and falls or drowning, asphyxia or exposure to fire.)

Falls from height is consistently the main cause of death alongside other kinds (of which the majority is injury by animal).

When you consider that the prominent industries facing the majority of deaths are agriculture and construction, the "accident kind" statistics are not surprising.

Gender and Age

It is also unsurprising considering the industries involved that 96% of all worker fatalities were male workers. Interestingly, nearly 40% were to workers aged 60 or over, even though such workers made up only around 10% of the workforce.

The rate of fatal injuries to workers aged 60 - 64 has a rate more than double the rate for all other ages. Workers over 65 have a rate five times greater than the rate of all other ages.

Employment Status

The fatal injury rate for self-employed workers is more than double than for employees. Around one third of fatal injuries in both 2017-218 and in the five year period prior were to self-employed workers, mostly in the agricultural sector (30%) but also in construction (26%) and other sectors.

By Country

The good news is the UK as a whole is one of the lowest rates of fatal injuries in the EU. In fact, only Finland had less deaths per 100,000 employees than the UK in 2015.

As ever, if you would like to discuss any Health and Safety issues, don't hesitate to get in touch with your usual Brodies contact.


Emma Dyson