Health and safety statistics

How safe are Brits when they are at work?

You can fall sick or injure yourself anywhere and it is no different at work. If anything unfortunate does happen then health insurance can allow patients to gain access to the benefits of private medical care has to offer, helping them to get back on their feet quicker. We did some research to see how many Brits are falling ill or getting injured while at work and the impact this is happening on them and the businesses.

Quick overview

  • 626,000 injuries occurred at work in 2017/18, up from 609,000 in 2016/17.
  • 1.4 million workers are suffering a work-related illness in 2017/18, up from 1.3 million in 2016/17.
  • 147 people were killed at work in 2017/18, 10 more than in 2016/17.
  • Over 30 million working days were lost due to work-related illness or injury.
  • This resulted in an estimated loss of £15 billion.


injuries occurred at work in 2017/18.

Ill health

The latest statistics show that over 30 million work days were lost last year to ill health. But just how many workers are suffering from work-related illnesses and what were the biggest causes?

  • 1.4 million workers suffering from work related illness in 2017/18 (either new or long-standing).
  • 30.7 million work days were lost in 2017/18 to ill health.
  • 44% of days off were reported as stress, anxiety or depression, down 5% compared to last year.
  • It’s estimated that 12 thousand lung disease deaths each year are linked to past exposures at work

30.7 million

days were lost to ill health in 2017/18.

Non-fatal injuries

Accidents at work can happen at any time, but just how common are they and what are the biggest causes?

  • There were 555,000 self-reported non-fatal injuries in 2017/18.
  • There were a further 71,000 employer reported incidents in 2017/18.
  • 135,000 incidents resulted in an absence of 7 days or more.
  • While 420,000 incidents resulted in less than 7 days absence.

Most common causes of workplace accidents

See the table below for a list of the most common causes of workplace accidents in 2017/18. Leading the list is slip, trips and falls accounting for 31% of accidents. Injuries related to lifting or handling closely followed causing 21% of accidents while being struck by an object accounted for 10% of injuries.

Accident type Percentage
Slip trip or fall 31%
Lifting or handling 21%
Struck by object 10%
Fall from height 8%
Acts of violence 7%

Fatal injuries

The trend of fatal injuries at work has generally been declining since the 1980’s, but 2017/18 saw 10 more people killed at work compared to 2016/17, so which sector is the most dangerous to work in?

  • 147 workers were killed in 2017/18, 10 more than 2016/17.
  • Agriculture overtook Construction as the most dangerous sector, accounting for 32 deaths, up form 27 the year before.
  • Construction also accounted for a large proportion of these deaths with 30 workers dying.
  • The most common cause of death across all industries was being falling from height (40).
  • 92 Members of the public were killed due to work related activities in 2018/19.
  • Deaths per 100,000 workers has seen a long term downward trend since 1980.

92 members of the public

were killed due to work related activities in 2018/19.

How does the UK compare to the rest of Europe?

We explored the incidence rate of fatal injuries while at work across Europe from the most recent data available for all countries in 2015. The UK had the lowest incidence rate at 0.51 deaths per 100,000 workers, while Romania had the worst with 3.63 deaths per 100,000 workers. Surprisingly France came in 2nd, with 3.37 deaths per 100,000 workers.

Country Deaths
Austria 1.28
Belgium 1.56
Bulgaria 2.83
Croatia 1.68
Cyprus 0.91
Czech Rep. 2.16
Denmark 0.8
Estonia 1.22
Finland 0.33
France 3.37
Germany 0.74
Greece 1.88
Hungary 1.63
Ireland 1.4
Italy 0.82
Latvia 3.05
Lithuania 3.13
Luxembourg 2.45
Malta 1.99
Netherlands 0.72
Poland 1.06
Portugal 2.56
Romania 3.63
Slovakia 1.22
Slovenia 2.34
Spain 1.91
Sweden 0.54
United Kingdom 0.51

Sources used

  • HSE
  • WHO
  • Eurostat

Click here for more research. For all media enquiries, please contact:

Matt Mckenna
UK Communications Manager
T: +44 20 8191 8806

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