Provisional figures published by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show fatalities in the waste sector has dropped below the yearly average.
There were seven fatalities in the waste and recycling sector for the year 2018/19 compared to 12 fatal injuries during the previous year (2017/18).
This puts the most recent figures below the annual average of nine fatalities.
The provisional annual data for total work-related fatal injuries revealed that 147 workers were fatally injured between April 2018 and March 2019 (a rate of 0.45 per 100,000 workers).
There has been a long-term reduction in the number of fatalities since 1981. Although 2018/19 saw an increase of 6 workplace fatalities from 2017/18, the number has remained broadly level in recent years.
Following the release, HSE Chair Martin Temple commented: “Today’s release of workplace fatality statistics is a reminder that despite the UK’s world leading position in health and safety, we cannot become complacent as we seek to fulfil our mission in preventing injury, ill health and death at work.”
Fatal injury risk
The new figures show how fatal injuries are spread across the different industrial sectors. Agriculture, forestry and fishing, and construction sectors continue to account for the largest share of fatal injuries to workers (32 and 30 deaths respectively in 2018/19).
The figures also indicate sectors where the risk of fatal injury is greatest. Waste and recycling is among the worst affected sectors, with a rate of fatal injury some 18 times and 17 times as high as the average across all industries respectively (annual average rates for 2014/15-2018/19).
There were seven fatalities in the waste and recycling sector for the year 2018/19 compared to 12 fatal injuries during the previous year (2017/18)
Martin continued: “These statistics also remind us that, in certain sectors of the economy, workplace death remain worryingly high. Agriculture, forestry and fishing accounts for a small fraction of the workforce of Great Britain, yet accounted for over 20 per cent of worker fatalities in the last year. This is unacceptable and more must be done to prevent such fatalities taking place.”
“Whatever the sector, we should remember that any change in numbers provides little comfort to the family, friends and colleagues of the 147 whose lives were cut short this year while doing their job.”
Fatal injury causes
The three most common causes of fatal injuries continue to be; workers falling from height (40), being struck by a moving vehicle (30) and being struck by a moving object (16), accounting for nearly 60 per cent of fatal injuries in 2018/19.
The new figures continued to highlight the risks to older workers; 25% of fatal injuries in 2018/19 were to workers aged 60 or over, even though such workers made up only around 10% of the workforce.
In addition, there were also 92 members of the public fatally injured in incidents connected to work in 2018/2019, approximately a third of which took place on railways.
A fuller assessment of work-related ill-health and injuries, drawing on HSE’s full range of data sources, will be provided as part of the annual Health and Safety Statistics release on 30 October 2019.