Fatal injuries at work are, thankfully, rare, which means that the annual figures are subject to chance variation. However, over the last 20 years there has been a downward trend in the rate of fatal injury, although since 2008/2009 the trend is less clear.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has now published provisional statistics for fatal workplace injuries in Britain for the year 1 April 2014 to 31 March 2015.
The total number of deaths was 142, compared with 136 in the year to March 2014. The overall rate of fatal injury was 0.46 per 100,000 workers, compared with 0.45 in 2013/2014.
The figures show the fatal injury rates in several of the key industrial sectors:
- 35 fatal injuries to construction workers were recorded – a rate of 1.62 deaths per 100,000 workers – compared with 44 deaths in the year 2013/2014. The average number of deaths in the past five years is 45;
- 33 fatal injuries to agricultural workers were recorded – a rate of 9.12 deaths per 100,000 workers – compared with 27 deaths in the year 2013/2014. The average number of deaths in the past five years is 33; and
- Five fatal injuries to waste and recycling workers were recorded – a rate of 4.31 deaths per 100,000 workers – compared with four deaths in the year 2013/2014. The average number of fatalities in the past five years is six.
The statistics also show that 102 members of the public were fatally injured in accidents connected to work in 2014/2015 (excluding railway-related incidents).
These figures are provisional. They will be finalised in July 2016 following any necessary adjustments arising from further investigations and coroners' rulings, during which new facts can emerge about whether or not the accident was work-related.
Based on the latest available data (from 2012), Britain continues (for the eighth year) to have the lowest rate of fatal injuries to workers among the five leading industrial nations in Europe, which also include Germany, France, Spain and Italy.
The HSE has also released the latest available figures for deaths from mesothelioma, an incurable cancer of the lining of the lungs which is caused by inhalation of asbestos fibres. These show that 2,538 people died from the disease in 2013, compared with 2,548 deaths from mesothelioma in 2012. These figures show a substantial increase on the 2011 figure of 2,312 deaths.