Provisional annual data shows there has been an increase in work-related fatal accidents in Britain’s workplaces for the second year running.
The long-term trend has seen the rate of fatalities more than halve over the last 20 years. However, the latest provisional figures show that 144 people were killed whilst at work in 2015/2016 – up from 142 in 2014/5 and 2013/14 when 136 workers died.
The Health and Safety Executive has called on all sectors to learn lessons to ensure workers return home safe from work.
Martin Temple, HSE Chair said: “One death at work or life needlessly shortened, is one too many and behind every statistic lies a real story of loss and heartbreak and families left to grieve.
“Britain has one of the best health and safety systems in the world, but we should always be looking to improve and to prevent incidents that cost lives.
The new figures show the rate of fatal injuries in key industrial sectors:
- Forty three workers died in construction, the same as the average for the previous five years.
- In agriculture there were 27 deaths (compared to the five-year average of 32).
- In manufacturing there were 27 deaths (compared to five-year average 22) – this figure includes three incidents that resulted in a total of eight deaths.
- There were six fatal injuries to workers in waste and recycling, compared to the five-year average of seven, but subject to considerable yearly fluctuation.
There were also 103 members of the public fatally injured in accidents connected to work in 2015/16, of which 36 (35 percent) related to incidents occurring on railways.
Lara Murray, a health and safety legal expert with Palmers, said: “Whilst the statistics confirm the UK is one of the safest places to work in Europe and has one of the lowest rates of fatal injuries to workers in leading industrial nations, it is concerning to see that there has been an increase over the past two years.
“Three separate incidents resulted in eight avoidable workplace deaths and it is beholden upon employers to ensure that their workers are able to go about their daily tasks without risk of injury or death.
“Quite often such tragedies are the result of complacency, where workplace safety policies are in place, but are not stringently upheld. Regular health and safety reviews will help ensure that any loopholes are tightened any lapses in procedure are identified and acted upon.”