• International Workplace
  • 11 July 2017

Health and safety statistics show mixed picture

The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has published new statistics for on deaths in Great Britain caused by mesothelioma and as a result of fatal injuries arising from accidents at work.

The statistics show a mixed picture in both cases.

Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that takes many years to develop following the inhalation of asbestos fibres, but is usually rapidly fatal following disease onset. Annual deaths in Britain increased steeply over the last 50 years, a consequence of mainly occupational asbestos exposures that occurred because of the widespread industrial use of asbestos during 1950-1980.

The latest information shows:

  • There were 2,542 mesothelioma deaths in Great Britain in 2015, a similar number to the previous three years.
  • The latest projections suggest that there will continue to be around 2,500 deaths per year for the rest of this current decade before annual numbers begin to decline. 
  • The continuing increase in annual mesothelioma deaths in recent years has been driven mainly by deaths among those aged 70 and above.
  • In 2015 there were 2,135 male deaths and 407 female deaths, similar to the annual numbers in among males and females in the previous three years.
  • Men who worked in the building industry when asbestos was used extensively are now among those most at risk of mesothelioma. 

The statistics, Mesothelioma in Great Britain: annual deaths, IIDB cases and projected future deaths to 2030, can be downloaded from the HSE website.  

Latest statistics on deaths caused by work-related accidents show a levelling off in fatality rates after a steady period of decline: 137 workers were killed at work in 2016/17, and HSE reports that 92 Members of the public were killed due to work-related activities over the same period.

More than half of fatalities at work were caused by the three most common types of accident: being struck by a moving vehicle; falling from height; or being struck by a moving object.  Construction (30 deaths), agriculture (27) and manufacturing (19) were the highest risk sectors.

Fatal injuries arising from accidents at work in Great Britain 2017 (pdf) can be downloaded from the HSE website.