Increase in work-related fatalities

There were more workplace deaths recorded in construction that any other industry, according to the latest figures from the Health and Safety Executive.

There were 144 work-related fatalities in Britain during 2017-18, an increase from 135 fatalities in the previous year.

“This increase in workplace deaths may be the first sign of the effect of years of budget austerity, although the government cuts to health and safety investment have been taking a while to impact on workers,” Lawrence Waterman, chairman of the British Safety Council, said

“The latest rise in deaths at work reported by the HSE undermines the complacent belief that ‘we have the best safety record in the world’ and raises questions about the hollowing out of the HSE’s and local authorities’ ability to inspect workplaces.

“In every aspect of life, you tend to get what you pay for and our government is paying less money and less attention to workplace safety year on year.”

The largest number of deaths occurred in construction (38) and agriculture (29). Among the most common causes of fatal injuries were falls from height (35), being struck by moving vehicle (26) and being struck by a moving object (26).

In addition to workplace fatality figures, the HSE has also reported alarming statistics of deaths related to mesothelioma, asbestos-related cancer, which is still prevalent some 20 years after the use of asbestos was banned in Britain. In 2016, there were 2,595 mesothelioma deaths, and it is also estimated that there was a similar number of deaths due to asbestos-related lung cancer.