Fatalities at work fall, but how can accidents be avoided?

According to work accident specialists First4Lawyers, a total of 111 workers died in the UK last year in an accident at work, according to the latest figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). The figures represent a decrease of 38 from the previous year and is the lowest annual number on record. The HSE has stressed that the pandemic may have skewed the figures as the vast majority of people were either working from home or furloughed for the final two months of the year.

What were the most dangerous sectors to work in?

The construction industry came out top with a total of 40 deaths last year, up from 30 the previous year. A total of 20 workers in the agricultural, forestry and fishing sector lost their lives in accidents at work, down from 32 on the previous year, while 15 died in the manufacturing sector – down from 26 the previous year.

In terms of risk of injury, the waste and recycling and the agricultural, forestry and fishing sectors were the worst culprits. Shockingly the rate of injury in these sectors was 18 times higher than the average sector.

The most common cause of a fatal accident was falling from height, with 29 deaths. This was followed by being struck by a moving vehicle with 20 deaths, being struck by a moving object with 18 deaths, being trapped by something collapsing or overturning with 15 deaths and having contact with moving machinery accounting for 11 deaths.

The figures show that 97% of those who died were men.

How can accidents at work be avoided?

As the HSE says nobody should be killed or hurt because of the work they do. While it is impossible to avoid all accidents, it is possible to minimise the risk of them in the workplace. Things that employers can do to avoid accidents include:

  • Give proper training to employees for their job and the equipment they use.
  • Keep vehicles maintained.
  • Provide proper equipment needed for the job, whether this be safety harnesses or goggles.
  • Keep the workplace tidy and uncluttered to avoid falls or things falling from height.
  • Make sure employees don’t take shortcuts, such as not using a harness or other safety equipment.
  • Ensure dangers and accidents are reported.
  • Remind employees of proper safety procedures with signs in noticeable places.

While the number of workplace fatalities has fallen by half in the past 20 years, employers have a duty to get this figure down and employees have a duty to follow procedures and act responsibly. Only then will the number of accidents at work fall.