The initial data from the United Kingdom’s Health and Safety Executive show that for the year 2020/21, the total deaths nationwide increased by 29 on the year before.
While the numbers show an increase, the overall trend in the statistics across the last 20 years has shown that, broadly, fatality numbers are declining. The average number of workers killed at work over the past five years is 136.
However, it is important to note that the figures only relate to workplace incidents and don’t cover occupational diseases such as silicosis, mesothelioma or Covid-19.
HSE’s chief executive Sarah Albon said, “Whilst the working world in which we now live has created new health challenges for workers and for those who have a duty towards them, safety must also remain a priority.
“Whilst the picture has improved considerably over the longer term and Great Britain is one of the safest places to work in the world, every loss of life is a tragedy, we are committed to ensuring that workplaces are as safe as they can be and that employers are held to account and take their obligations seriously.”
The numbers for mesothelioma contracted via asbestos exposure, one of the few work-related diseases where deaths are counted directly, shows 2,369 people died in Great Britain in 2019.
This figure is seven per cent lower than the average of the previous seven years.
The current rates of death from mesothelioma largely reflect the prevalence of occupational asbestos exposure before 1980. The figure for 2019 is in line with the projections that pointed to a reduction in total annual deaths, but it not yet clear how quickly this rate will decline.