Self-employed workers have a fatality rate double that of employees, with construction and agriculture accounting for the highest number of deaths, according to provisional Health & Safety Executive annual statistics on fatalities at work for 2017/18. One third of the 144 fatalities at work involved self-employed workers, with a frequency rate of 0.84 fatalities per 100,000 self-employed workers, compared to 0.38 per 100,000 for employees and 0.45 for all workers.
The 144 deaths at work recorded in 2017/18 exceeds the 135 deaths in 2016/17, which was revised down from the provisional figure of 137 reported in Health and Safety at Work magazine. In addition, 100 members of the public died in 2017/18 as a result of work-related activities, eight more than the 92 who lost their lives in the preceding year.
The level of fatalities in the UK is not in decline; 144 deaths in 2017/18, 147 fatalities in 2015/16 and 142 in 2014/15. Factoring in employment levels, this year’s rate of 0.45 deaths per 100,000 in employment is slightly above last years rate of 0.43 per 100,000, while the 2015/16 rate was 0.47.
British Safety Council chair Lawrence Waterman said that the latest figures were a “real disappointment”, linked to both austerity in the public sector and “Brexit paralysis” in Whitehall. “The latest rise in deaths at work…..undermines the complacent belief that we have the best safety record in the world and raises questions about the following out of the Health & Safety Executive and local authorities’ ability to inspect workplaces”, he said.
The figures also show that older workers are disproportionately vulnerable, with 55 fatalities among the over 60s, or 40% of fatalities, when this group represents 10% of the workforce.
The agricultural and waste/recycling sectors are confirmed as the UK’s most dangerous workplaces in this year’s provisional figures, with a fatality rate of, respectively, 18 and 16 times the all-industry average. The construction sector, with 38 deaths compared to 30 in the preceding year, had a fatality rate of four times the all-industry average, slightly lower than the rate in the mining and quarrying sector, which is at five times the all-industry average.
Work at height has regained its position as the most common cause of work-related deaths with 35 fatalities, compared to 25 in 2016/17 when it took second place to fatalities resulting from workplace transport (31 last year, falling to 26 in 2017/18).
Source: Health & Safety at Work Magazine August 2018