· News

Work-related fatalities increased in 2023

Between April 2022 and March 2023, 135 workers lost their lives as a result of work-related accidents compared to 123 workers the year before, according to the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) annual report.

HSE’s chief executive Sarah Albon said employers must continue to prioritise workplace safety.

She said: “Any loss of life in the workplace is a tragedy. While these figures show Great Britain is one of the safest countries in the world to work, safety must continue to be at the top of everyone’s agenda.

“Our mission is to protect people and places and we remain committed to maintaining safe workplaces and holding employers to account for their actions.”

More on health and safety:

Five ways HR can ensure health and safety in the workplace

Working in a heat wave: health and safety guidance

HSE publishes its top 10 worst examples of health and safety

Having risen steadily between 2016 to 2018, the number of deaths decreased fairly dramatically in 2019, then rebounded to pre-pandemic levels in 2020.

The three most common causes of fatal injuries are falls from height , being struck by a moving object, and being struck by a moving vehicle.

The sectors with the highest number of work-related fatalities in 2022/23 were construction, agriculture, forestry and fishing, and manufacturing.

Construction experienced a notable increase from last year, from 29 to 45 deaths, whereas in agriculture, forestry and fishing, there was a reduction in fatalities from 23 to 21. 

Nick Wilson, director of health and safety services at employment law service WorkNest, said trends in workplace fatalities often fluctuate for no discernable reason.

“The cyclic nature of these fluctuations underscores the complex and multifaceted nature of work-related fatalities. Further analysis and examination is needed to identify underlying factors and develop targeted measures to ensure sustained progress in improving workplace safety.”

In a Worknest study published in 2021, 59% of business decision makers said the pandemic has fundamentally changed how the organisation views workplace health and safety. 

Wilson said this is not reflected in the HSE’s latest report.

He added: “This year’s figures highlight that, over the last seven years, we have made minimal progress when it comes to driving down the number of work-related fatalities. It’s incumbent on employers, particularly those in higher risk sectors, to take their responsibilities seriously, intensify their efforts, and renew and enhance initiatives."