Great Britain Fatalities up by Almost a Third
COVID disruption, wide scale furloughing of workers and a 10% reduction in weekly hours worked has been accompanied by a 28% year-on-year increase in the number of work-related fatal accidents, according to Great Britain’s annual fatality statistics.
In the 12 months to 31st March 2021, 142 workers in Great Britain lost their lives at work, rebounding from the record low of 111 seen in 2029/2020.
At the time, last year’s low was partly linked to COVID depressing economic activity in February and March 2020. But this year’s figures – also rising above the five-year average of 136 workplace fatalities – suggests that COVID-related sickness absence, wide scale furloughing and the displacement of workers into new roles could have comprised safety standards at work.
Construction, agriculture and manufacturing all recorded a fatal accident rate in 2020/2021, exceeding the five-year average figure for those sectors, with construction seeing 39 deaths (above the 2016/17 to 2020/21 average of 36), agriculture 34 (28) and manufacturing 20 (18).
As in previous years, the three most common causes off fatal injuries were falls from height (35), being struck by a moving vehicle (25) and being struck by a moving object (17). Together, the trio accounted for more than half of the fatalities in 2020/21.
The proportion of fatal injuries among the self-employed increased from 31% in 2019/20 to 38% of worker fatalities in 2020/21, even though the self-employed account for 16% of the workforce.
In terms of the number of fatalities per 100,000, the sector with the highest fatal injury rate was agriculture, forestry and fishing at 11.37 – a level that also shows a marked deterioration from the sector’s five year average rate of 8.44.
The waste and recycling recorded the second worst figure, at 2.57, but this represented a significant improvement on the five year average of 7.02.
According to the HSE, this statistically significant drop ‘almost certainly reflects the lockdown restrictions in place on the British public over the course of the year’.
The statistics exclude deaths from occupational diseases or linked to occupational exposures (including COVID-19), as well as fatal road accidents while working or commuting, and fatal accidents among workers who were travelling by air or sea.
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