January 12, 2022
Newly-reported figures on work-related injuries for 2021 in Great Britain show that a pleasing and continuing downward trend exists. The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) released its annual figures for 2020/21 on December 16th 2021, and the statistics show that work in reducing personal injuries and workplace accidents continues to be reflected in the reported figures.
Of course fatal injuries at work is the headline figure that perhaps tells the most dramatic story, but the number of non-fatal injuries also highlights general trends and can tell us much more about how health and safety practices are being broadly welcomed and accepted in the workplace.
In terms of the 2020/21 figures, fatal injuries to workers in Great Britain totalled 142. This was a small increase on 2019 figures, and while there has generally been a downward trend over the last twenty years, this has flattened out more recently. Of the 142 fatalities, 39 of these (27%) came in construction, while 34 (24%) came in agriculture, forestry and fishing. These were the sectors with the most fatalities and will give those industries some food for thought.
How did non-fatal accidents happen in 2021?
When dissecting the fatalities further and looking at the type of incident, 35 of these (25%) were the result of a fall from height, and 25 (18%) were from being struck by a moving vehicle. This type of information enables health and safety management to review their current practices and procedures and to assess where improvement measures and extra controls can be implemented.
As we mentioned above, non-fatal injuries give us much more information about trends and where management attention is needed, simply because they are more plentiful and frequent. And this makes these figures more useful in terms of assessing whether health and safety management in general is improving.
The HSE figures show that there were 441,000 non-fatal injuries recorded at work, according to the Labour Force Survey (LFS). From these, just 51,211 incidents were recorded by employers under the RIDDOR reporting system. RIDDOR reporting requires employers to record more serious incidents that result in an absence from work of seven days or more, while LFS figures are taken from workers’ own self-reports. There has always been a differential between the two figures, with employers generally under-reporting workplace injuries by half. But as we can see, this difference is significantly bigger in 2021, perhaps due to the pandemic changing many working practices that would otherwise be commonplace.
Of the 441,000 non-fatal injuries, 339,000 (77%) resulted in an absence from work of seven days or more, while 102,000 (23%) were less than seven days. Where the RIDDOR reporting system does give us better information than LFS, however, is in the detail of how an injury, accident or illness occurred. From this we can see that 33% of RIDDOR incidents came from slips, trips and falls, while 18% came from handling, lifting and carrying. Again, this allows employers to make very clear corrective and preventive actions to prevent future reoccurrence.
Reducing personal injuries and workplace accidents
The main takeaway from the 2021 HSE figures, however, is the downward trend overall in workplace injuries. Back in 2000/01 the LFS rate of self-reported workplace non-fatal injuries was 4,000 per 100,000 employees. In 2021 this was down to just over 1,500, and in itself this was a sharp reduction from 2,000 in 2019, though, again, this could be related to COVID non-reporting issues.
Nevertheless, the downward trend is pleasing to see and shows how actions taken from personal injury claims and accident reports is having a positive effect in preventing repeat incidents and educating employees and employers alike.
At Spencers Solicitors we have professional and experienced personal injury solicitors, and we can offer legal expertise where workplace accidents have occurred, as well as advising you on what path you should take towards your physical and mental wellbeing, so that a return to work and normal life after the trauma of a workplace accident can be achieved as soon and as seamlessly as possible.
Please call our personal injury department today if you have experienced a workplace accident and need some compassionate and expert legal advice.
About the author
Steve is a solicitor who qualified in 1998 and has over 30 years experience in representing clients throughout the UK who have suffered catastrophic, complex serious injuries including amputations; whole body burns, and long term disabling psychological conditions as a result of serious workplace and road traffic accidents, in particular, catastrophic injuries in the steelworks and factories of South Wales; Kent and the Midlands.
In addition he has been an advocate at inquests representing families of loved ones who have died as a result of accidents. Steve goes that extra mile for clients exhibiting excellent client care.