How safe are UK workplaces?

December 7, 2022

The HSE statistics for 2022

The Qatar World Cup has been controversial on many levels, not least the appalling safety record associated with the construction of new stadiums for the tournament. While the number of fatalities is disputed, what is clear is that a significant number of workers lost their lives while doing their job. This underlines both the dangers that many people face during their working day and the vital importance of adhering to the highest possible health and safety standards.

While, thankfully, there are much tighter health and safety regulations in the UK and a widespread commitment to enshrine these standards in workplace culture, there is no room for complacency. The latest figures issued by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reveal that 123 people were killed in work-related accidents. 

This is down slightly on the number for 2021, however, it still means more than two people a week lose their lives at work. Only Germany records lower incidents in Europe, but that shouldn’t mask the reality that there are still dozens of families, friends and colleagues affected by these tragedies. This only talks about fatalities – could make mention of the high number of people and families impacted by serious workplace injuriesWorkers deserve to operate in a safe, secure environment and organisations must make it a priority to protect them at all times, by continually reviewing and communicating their health and safety policies and procedures. 

Mental health is the biggest cause of work-related illness

Just over half of those suffering from work-related illnesses are dealing with excessive stress, depression and anxiety. 914,000 people, 51% of the total of 1.8 million have a mental health condition caused by work. 372,000 new cases were reported in the last year and 17 million working days were lost due to these conditions.

The number of people suffering with their mental health because of their work had been rising before the pandemic, but this figure has continued to rise following the lifting of restrictions, showing that the effects are both long-lasting and serious. While many employers have focused on supporting mental health in the workplace, these figures show there is still plenty more than (that) needs to be done.

The wider impact of Covid-19 on the workplace

While Covid-19 has affected mental health in the workplace, the new HSE figures show its impact goes far wider than that. There are 585,000 workers suffering from a work-related illness caused or made worse by the effects of the pandemic. As well as harming mental health, it has also influenced musculoskeletal and other physical health conditions.

123,000 workers contracted Covid-19 over the last year in all likelihood due to exposure to the virus in (or travelling to) the workplace. Around 40% of these work in the human health and social care sectors underlining the risk involved in working in these professions and the importance of adequate PPE in the workplace. Despite Covid-19 restrictions being lifted, employers need to be aware that the virus is very much still around and can cause significant, long-lasting health issues.

Musculoskeletal work-related illness on the rise

More than a quarter of work-related illnesses are due to musculoskeletal conditions. There were nearly half a million cases over the last year (477,000) and 139,000 of these were due to new incidents. 7.3 million working days were lost in total, a significant number for employers to find cover for.

Over the last few years, the number of musculoskeletal work-related cases had been falling, but this year’s figures reveal an increase, highlighting the need to pay as much attention to supporting physical health, particularly in active roles, as mental health.

More than 10,000 injuries sustained at work each week

Simple things like falling, tripping or slipping at work can have long-term impacts. There were more than half a million workplace-injuries reported last year causing a total of 6 million working days to be lost and costing a staggering £7.6 billion.

While the focus in the last couple of years has been on protecting workers’ health, employers need to be mindful of ensuring that everything is being done to limit accidents, creating a clean, safe environment that supports every aspect of health and wellbeing.

Gaining verification through schemes like Prosure360 illustrates to workers, stakeholders and customers that you are taking health and safety seriously in both your organisation and across your supply chain, committing to meeting to the highest possible standards. Platforms such as Prosure360 let organisations know what risks they should be aware of and ensure they have the proper controls in place. For suppliers, verification helps improve standards and demonstrates your commitment to safe and ethical best practices. 

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