The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) today urges employers to ensure they are managing health and safety risks as it is revealed that 142 people lost their lives in work-related accidents in Great Britain last year.
The latest workplace fatality figures, covering the year up to 31 March 2021, have been published by the Health and Safety Executive.
The 2020-21 figure is a rise of 31 from the previous year. While the overall trend is still downward and comparatively low for western Europe, IOSH believes this number should be even lower and is calling for a continued drive to make workplaces safer.
Ruth Wilkinson, Head of Health and Safety at IOSH, said: “Increases in fatalities are very concerning, but we must also remember that lockdown restrictions in 2019-2020 may have be a contributing factor to the previous year’s record low figures rather than improved risk management and prevention in the workplace.
“All 142 deaths last year were avoidable tragedies which will have left devastated families and friends having to come to terms with their loss. No one should have their life cut short by work, or through others’ work activities, which is why we must continue to reduce this number further through good health and safety management practices.
“Workplace deaths are only ever the tip of an iceberg of health and safety failure, which is why we encourage employers to ensure that they are managing the safety and health risks in their workplaces. This includes any new risks that may be presented through new operating models, new technology or equipment, and so on.”
Self-employed workers continue to be a greater risk of fatal injuries. In 2020-21, 38% of worker fatal injuries were to self-employed workers even though such workers made up only 16% of the workforce.
Another group of workers who are disproportionately affected are older workers. More than a quarter (27%) of workers killed were aged 60 or over, though they only account for ten per cent of the workforce.
Construction and agriculture, forestry and fishing again accounted for the highest number of deaths, with 39 and 34 recorded respectively.
The most common cause of death across all sectors were falls from height (35) and being struck by a moving vehicle (25).