Fortunately, workplace safety has greatly improved in the UK in the last few decades, and the UK has one of the lowest workplace injury rates and work-related illness rates in the world. It had the lowest rate of fatal injuries per 100,000 workers in the EU in 2014. Despite this, in 2016/17 an estimated 609,000 workers sustained a non-fatal injury at work and 1.3 million workers were suffering an illness they believe was caused or aggravated by their work. This is why having a stringent health and safety policy in place is so important.

Workplace Injury Rate

It will come as little surprise that some industries are more dangerous than others. Here are the most hazardous industries in terms of their workplace injury rate per 100,000 workers, according to Labour Force Survey annual averages in 2014/15 and 2016/17:

1. Agriculture, forestry and fishing (3,960)
2. Construction (2,940)
3. Transport/storage (2,580)
4. Accommodation/food services (2,460)
5. Public admin/defence (2,320)
6. Wholesale/retail trade (2,250)
7. Manufacturing (2,080)
8. Arts/entertainment/recreation (1,850)
9. Human health/social work (1,780)
10. Education (1,630)
11. Administrative and support service activities (1,560)
12. Other service activities (1,130)
13. Professional, scientific and technical activities (900)
14. Information and communication (520)

The following industries had sample numbers too small to provide reliable estimates: Water supply/waste management, utility supply, real estate activities, financial and insurance activities, mining and quarrying. As you can imagine, this doesn’t necessarily mean mining is one of the safest industries in the UK!

Work-related Illness Rate

The LFS's data also reveals the industries with the highest rates of work-related illnesses per 100,000 workers:
1. Human health/social work (4,500)
2. Agriculture, forestry and fishing (4,350)
3. Public admin/defence (4,000)
4. Education (3,630)
5. Water supply/waste management (3,560)
6. Construction (3,530)
7. Other service activities (3,400)
8. Utility supply (3,290)
9. Transport/storage (3,230)
10. Real estate activities (3,010)
11. Financial and insurance activities (2,860)
12. Arts/entertainment/recreation (2,740)
13. Administrative and support service activities (2,700)
14. Manufacturing (2,620)
15. Wholesale/retail trade (2,470)
16. Professional, scientific and technical activities (2,450)
17. Information and communication (2,130)
18. Accommodation/food services (2,060)

The same size for mining and quarrying, again, was too small to produce an estimate. It may seem surprising that industries like health and social work and education might have a higher work related illness rate than more physically demanding industries like construction, transport and manufacturing. However, stress, depression and anxiety account for a large proportion of these illnesses: 45% for health and social workers and 51% for education workers, compared to 15% of work related illness in construction, 29% in transportation and 28% in manufacturing. Considering the well-publicised pressure on the NHS and the social care system, and education, with nurses, care workers and teachers leaving their professions in large numbers, this is understandable.

There are many steps employers can take to minimise the number of workplace injuries and work-related illnesses amongst their employees, from professional manual handling training to providing high-quality PPE or keeping workers well-educated about workplace risks with signs and posters. Browse Safety First Aid for all your workplace first aid and health and safety needs.