Despite being a relatively small sector in terms of worker numbers, there were five fatal incidents in the waste and recycling sector last year. Meanwhile, deaths in the agriculture sector fell to the lowest level on record last year, with 20 fatalities.
Falls from height continue to account for the most work-related fatalities, with 29 people killed after falling last year. Being struck by a moving vehicle or object accounted for 20 and 18 deaths respectively last year. Together these causes accounted for 60% of workplace fatalities in 2019/20.
As in previous years, fatal injuries to workers are predominately to male workers. In 2019/20, 108 (97%) of all worker fatalities were to male workers, with 27% of fatalities involving those aged over 60, despite the fact that age group accounts for only 10% of the workforce.
The data also shows that 51 members of the public were killed last year as a result of a work-related accident in HSE enforced workplaces, including 33 in the health and social work sector.
Health and safety expert Fiona Cameron of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law, said despite the overall reduction in fatalities there was no room for complacency.
“Not only are the restrictions imposed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic likely to have had an impact on the figures, there is clear concern that the construction and waste sectors account for a high number of deaths of workers and members of the public,” Cameron said.
Health and safety expert Zoe Betts of Pinsent Masons said: “The long-term downward trend in workplace fatalities has seen the figures halve over the last two decades. Whilst this is to be welcomed, we have seen a plateauing in the statistics in more recent years and enforcement bodies will be keen to ensure that duty-holders look for ever more successful ways to manage key workplace risks and thereby reduce the number of serious incidents and fatalities.
“This is particularly pertinent as businesses return to the workplace, some more swiftly than others, and grapple with the effects of the coronavirus on the workforce, the workplace and methods of work,” Betts said.