203 workplace deaths in 2022-23

workplace fatalities
iStock: Ton Photograph

There were 203 workplace deaths in 2022-23.

Construction once again accounted for the highest number of workplace deaths in the year to the end of March, according to figures from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) published on 6 July.

There were 203 workplace deaths, 135 of them involving people at work and a further 68 members of the public. Construction accounted for 45 of the worker deaths.

They are absolute numbers, and because the construction industry employs so many people its death rate per 100,000 employees is third highest at 2.1, well below Agriculture, Forestry & Fishing’s 7.87 and Waste & Recycling’s 5.02.

And although people’s lives should not be at risk at work, the UK still kills fewer of its population at work each year than most countries, making it one of the safest countries in the world to work in.

The most likely way to die at work is by falling from a height. Next most likely is being hit by something heavy that is falling, and third is being hit by a vehicle.

Almost everyone (96%) of those killed at work in the latest figures was male, and the death rate of those over 65 was three-and-a-half times that of those under 65.

The total of 135 worker deaths in 2022/23 is higher than the previous year (123), but is in line with recent averages. There has been a long-term downward trend in the rate of fatal injuries at work, although in recent years the rate has been broadly flat.

Death rates

Although the death rate is on a downward trend, it has been flat for recent years.

HSE has also published the annual figures for Mesothelioma, the cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. The figures show 2,268 people died from the disease in 2021, 302 fewer than in 2020 and substantially fewer than the average of 2,520 deaths per year between 2012 and 2019.

Asbestos-related diseases take decades to develop and most people with them today will have been exposed before asbestos was banned – which was not until 1999.

As those with illnesses die there are fewer people left to die and the number is expected to show a general downward trend from now on.

HSE recently launched a campaign called Asbestos & You to raise awareness of the risks associated with it. You can find out more about the Asbestos and You campaign on the Work Right website here. Visit HSE’s website for further guidance on asbestos here.

Sarah Albon, Chief Executive of HSE, says of the latest figures: “Any loss of life in the workplace is a tragedy. While these figures show Great Britain is one of the safest countries in the world to work, safety must continue to be at the top of everyone’s agenda.

“Our mission is to protect people and places and we remain committed to maintaining safe workplaces and holding employers to account for their actions.”