Workplace Fatal Injuries in Great Britain, 2021


Provisional data released by the HSE shows that a total of 142 workers were killed at work in Great Britain in 2020/21, an increase of 29 from the previous year, though the number of deaths in 2019/20 (113) was low compared to other recent years.


This report provides headline numbers on workplace fatal injuries resulting from a work-related accident that were reported to enforcing authorities in 2020/21. It includes both fatal injuries to workers and to members of the public. The counts for 2020/21 are currently provisional and will be finalised in July 2022.


In statistical terms the number of fatalities has remained broadly level in recent years – the average annual number of workers killed at work over the five years 2016/17-2020/21 is 136.

Over the past 20 years there has been a long-term reduction in the number of workplace fatalities, demonstrating that Great Britain is one of the safest places to work in the world.


The figures released by the HSE relate to workplace incidents. They do not include deaths arising from occupational exposure to disease, including COVID-19.


The three most common causes of fatal injuries, accounting for more than half of fatalities in 2020/21, continue to be:

  1. Workers falling from height (35).

  2. Being struck by a moving vehicle (25).

  3. Being struck by a moving object (17).

These figures continue to highlight the risks to older workers with around 30% of fatal injuries in 2020/21 involving workers aged 60 or over, even though such workers only make up around 11% of the workforce.


In addition, members of the public continue to be killed in connection with work-related incidents. In 2020/21, 60 members of the public were killed as a result of a work-related incident.


The figures for Mesothelioma, which is a cancer contracted through past exposure to asbestos and is one of the few work-related diseases where deaths can be counted directly, show 2,369 people died in Great Britain in 2019. This is seven per cent lower than the average of 2,540 deaths over the previous seven years.


Current mesothelioma deaths largely reflect occupational asbestos exposures that occurred before the 1980s. The figure for 2019 is consistent with projections that a reduction in total annual deaths would start to become apparent at this point. However, it is still not certain how quickly annual deaths will decline.


The full report is available here.

HSE July 2021

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