The latest annual statistics from the Health and Safety Executive in the UK provides an amazing level of insight into the current state of the UK workplace in terms of injury, illness and fatalities as compared with previous recorded years.

The UK introduced the Health and Safety at Work Act in 1974 marking a revolution in safety standards in the workplace by defining what steps the law expects an employer to take in order to create a safe workplace removed from any avoidable dangers.

Since this law came to be there has been an ever decreasing rate of injury and fatalities in the UK. The exception to this is illness as diseases such as cancer caused by Asbestos have long incubation periods and thus the impact is felt for decades despite a wide range of measures having being taken to protect employees from its effects.
Bryan and Armstrong have created this infographic which makes understanding the data much easier thanks to its cleaver use of color and icons.

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If we look at the headline figures year on year there has been an increase in fatalities from 133 to 142 which has been attributed to a less experienced workforce following layoffs and re-hiring caused by the recession. On a positive, however, injuries are down from 629,000 to 611,000 while ill health remains at the same level of 1.2 million. In terms of the impact on the economy, there were 27.3 million days lost at a cost of £14.3 billion to the economy. The amount of resources dedicated to enforcement has shrunk down to 12,430 cases brought.

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When we look at the injuries and fatalities by region we can see that the most dangerous places in the UK to work are Scotland, the North West and the South West. This is likely due to the engineering and rural nature of the work in those areas, which the North East only suffered 1 fatality thanks it its lower population density and office based workers.

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Surprisingly the highest workplace risks as defined by employees was “deal with difficult customers etc” followed by the more expected results such as lifting, moving, chemical/biological substances, reparative movement, slips, machines, tiring positions and vehicles to name but a few.

The most common cause of ill health in work is lunch disease and cancer. Mesothelioma remains relatively unchanged while asbestosis has dropped over 50% and pneumoconiosis has increased slightly. These diseases affect workers for many years and often do not show themselves until retirement.

Health and Safety Statistics of Great Britain