News

Annual construction death toll falls to record low

4 July 2019 | By Neil Gerrard

A total of 30 people were killed while working in the construction sector between April 2018 and March 2019 – a record annual low, according to the latest figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The figure represents eight fewer deaths than the year before and is slightly lower than the 31 deaths recorded in 2016/2017, which was the previous record low.

The annual average number of deaths in construction between 2014/15 and 2018/19 is 36, with the number fluctuating between 30 and 47 over the past five years.

Source: HSE

The rate of fatal injuries per 100,000 construction workers in 2018/19 was 1.31, compared to an annual average of 1.61 over the past five years.

Nonetheless, the rate of fatal injury in construction is still around four times as high as the average across all industries, albeit considerably less than agriculture, forestry, fishing, or waste and recycling.

Across all industries, there were 147 workplace deaths in 2018/19 – up by six on the year before.

The three most common causes of fatal injuries were: workers falling from height (40), being struck by a moving vehicle (30) and being struck by a moving object (16), accounting for nearly 60 per cent of fatal injuries in 2018/19.

Risks to older workers

The new figures continued to highlight the risks to older workers; 25% of fatal injuries in 2018/19 were to workers aged 60 or over, even though such workers made up only around 10% of the workforce.

Deaths from mesothelioma, associated with exposure to asbestos, killed 2,523 people in Great Britain in 2017- a broadly similar number to the previous five years. The current figures are largely a consequence of occupational asbestos exposures that occurred before 1980. 

Commenting on the figures, HSE chair Martin Temple said: “Today’s release of workplace fatality statistics is a reminder that despite the UK’s world leading position in health and safety, we cannot become complacent as we seek to fulfil our mission in preventing injury, ill health and death at work.”

“Whatever the sector, we should remember that any change in numbers provides little comfort to the family, friends and colleagues of the 147 whose lives were cut short this year while doing their job.”

Reacting to news that falls from height still account for the greatest number of workplace deaths, All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Working at Height chair Alison Thewliss MP said: “These statistics show that this issue is not going away. It is imperative that the Government takes forward the recommendations made in our report which have been devised with input from industry and key stakeholders.

"We have already had a positive response from government and the HSE but time is of the essence when it comes to safety in the workplace, and we need to ensure these actions are taken forward as quickly as possible.”

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