Towards the end of last year, the HSE released their annual Health & Safety statistics for 2020/21. These latest figures take into account the Coronavirus pandemic and largely reveal the continued concerns when it comes to work-related stress, depression or anxiety.
The pandemic has impacted the collection of data and the assessment of trends, however the reporting provides a clear indication of work-related ill health, non-fatal workplace injuries and enforcement action taken by HSE during 2020/21. However, statistics on working days lost and associated economic costs have not been included, for reasons including furloughed workers and disruptions to data collection.
It is impossible to know if the scale of work-related ill health would have been different without the Coronavirus pandemic, but it is clear it has had an impact on work-related stress as employees have faced challenges such as longer hours or homeworking.
- 1.7 million workers suffering from work-related ill-health, of which 850,000 were suffering from a new illness.
- 93,000 workers self-reported contracting COVID at work
- 645,000 workers reported that their work-related illness was caused or made worse by the coronavirus pandemic, with 70% of these cases causing stress, depression or anxiety
- 50% of new and long-standing cases of work-related ill health are caused by work-related stress, anxiety and depression
- 451,000 workers suffering from a new case of work-related stress, depression or anxiety
- Industries with higher than average rates of stress, depression or anxiety include public administration/defence, human health/social work and education (2018/19–2020/21 average)
- 441,000 non-fatal injuries according to self-reports, with 102,000 resulting in more than 7 days off work
- Slips, trips & falls on same level account for 33% of non-fatal injuries
- 18% of injuries are from handling, lifting or carrying
- 470,000 workers suffering from work-related musculoskeletal disorders
- 142 fatal injuries
- 2369 Mesothelioma deaths in 2019, with a similar number of lung cancer deaths linked to past exposures to asbestos
- The most dangerous industries to work in include agriculture, forestry and fishing, followed by construction and the accommodation/food service activities industries (based on workplace injuries)
- HSE issued 2,929 enforcement notices
- 185 cases prosecuted, (or referred to COPFS for prosecution in Scotland) by HSE where a conviction was achieved
- The average fine per case was £145,000
These annual figures are important to assess the health and safety risks to UK workers. Employers, policy makers and workers themselves need to strive for continuous improvements when it comes to workplace safety. As a result of the pandemic, employee health and safety has been given an even bigger spotlight and employers should be asking themselves what improvements can be made.
2019/20 compared to 2020/2021
While it is possible the pandemic may have impacted the reporting of data, it is interesting to note that there have been some year on year increases in the number of new cases for the following:
- New work-related ill-health cases have risen by 212,000
- New cases of work-related stress, depression and anxiety have risen by 104,000
- New cases of workers suffering from work-related musculoskeletal disorders have risen by 10,000
The pandemic has contributed to an increase in work-related stress, depression and anxiety, as well as musculoskeletal disorders, and these need to be key areas employers should address.
Employee health & safety
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