Cracking up at work - half sick leave due to mental ill-health

  • 111 fatal injuries at work (40 in construction) 
  • 693,000 non-fatal injuries (61,000 in construction) 
  • 1.6million working people suffering from a work-related illness (81,000 in construction) 
  • 38.8million working days lost due to work-related illness and workplace injury (2.1million in construction) 
  • 325 health & safety infringements were prosecuted and resulted in a conviction (137 in construction). Fines totalled £35.8million (£8.3million in construction) 
  • £16.2billion – the estimated economic cost to Great Britain of work-related injuries and ill health in 2019/2020. 
  • More than half the working days lost in 2019/20 were due to mental ill-health (26% in construction) 

These are figures released yesterday (4 November) by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE). They might look bad, but on an international comparison they show Great Britain is still one of the safest places in the world to work, with fatalities up to the end of March the lowest number on record.

The annual report by the HSE includes statistics for work-related ill health, workplace injuries, working days lost, enforcement action taken, and the associated cost to Great Britain.

The figures relate to the year to the end of March 2020, so miss most of the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In construction, provisional figures for 2019/20 show a total of 2,031 notices issued by HSE Inspectors, with the industry accounting for 56% of all prohibition notices issued. However, that is a 32% reduction from the previous year’s tally of 2,969.

There were 143 prosecutions in construction, 96% successful, resulting in £8.3million in fines in total.

HSE has been a major part of the government’s plans to keep workplaces Covid secure, including visits last month, when dust was the main focus, continuing into this month (November) when Covid security is the focus.

As part of HSE’s response to Covid-19, it has continued to support the wider health response through working closely with National Public Health Bodies, Local Authorities and local health teams.

Sarah Newton, HSE Chair, says: “The Covid pandemic has focussed attention on the health & safety issues people face in the workplace. HSE remains committed to taking action where workers are not protected to ensure the guidance and assistance we provide for employers in managing risks is the best available, based on the latest evidence and science.

“Although Great Britain continues to be up there with the safest places in the world to work, these figures highlight the scale of the challenge HSE currently faces in making Britain an even healthier and safer place to work, this includes our role in the response to the pandemic to ensure workplaces are Covid secure.

“We must continue to drive home the importance of managing risk and promoting behaviours to ensure employers work right, so that workers are able to go home healthy and safe at the end of each day.”

The full annual injury and ill-health statistics report can be found on HSE’s website.