HSE Publishes Annual Work-related Statistics for 2020/21

Today, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has published statistics that cover work-related ill health, non-fatal workplace injuries and enforcement action taken by HSE, in the 2020/21 period.

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Written by: alcumus
16th December

Health and Safety has been a long-standing priority for employers. It is their moral and ethical duty to protect their employees and the members of the pubic who encounter their operations. Everyone should have the right to return home from work safe and well. This vital responsibility has been sharply underlined by the COVID-19 pandemic. Every business has been required to make the safety of staff and customers their number one priority since it began.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) release statistics at the end of each year to track workplace-related illness, workplace injuries, the number of working days lost to these, what enforcement action is being taken and the associated costs for England, Scotland and Wales. From these, it is possible to follow trends and uncover areas that require special focus.

Today, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has published statistics that cover work-related ill health, non-fatal workplace injuries and enforcement action taken by HSE, in the 2020/21 period:

  • 1.7 million workers suffering from a work-related illness, around half of which were stress, depression or anxiety

Two new estimates have been developed to measure the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic;

  • 93,000 workers self-reported catching COVID-19 at work; 52,000 of these worked in the human health and social work sector
  • 645,000 workers reported that their work-related illness was caused or made worse by the coronavirus pandemic; 70 per cent of these were cases of stress, depression or anxiety.

The pandemic has affected certain data collection and impacted on assessment of trends, therefore there is no new data on working days lost and the associated economic cost for 2021.

It is not known whether some of the people reporting a coronavirus-related ill health condition would have developed and reported an ill health condition if pre-pandemic working practices had continued. It is therefore not possible to assess the scale of work-related ill health independent of the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

You can read the report in full on the HSE website.

Expert analysis

These statistics show that the UK remains one of the safest countries for employees in the world, with comparatively low rates of injuries and fatalities, however there is always more that can be done to make the workplace as safe as possible. As seen with COVID-19, the risk can come from anywhere, so employers must remain vigilant, regularly monitoring and assessing their processes and procedures to make sure they meet the required standards.

Examining the trend over the last five years, on average there have been almost 150 fatalities per year. Every life is precious and every one of these people leave behind bereaved family, friends and colleagues. It is important businesses are conscious of the dangers that exist around their operation, especially in those industries where the risks are at their highest.

Helen Jones, Chief Operating Officer – Enterprise at Alcumus commented: 

“It is sobering to see such a high number of ill health incidents occurring in UK workplaces and highlights the impact COVID-19 has on people’s health and mental well-being. The data released today shows that a total of 1.7 million workers suffered from a work-related illness in 2020/21. Tying this to what we see, much of this will be related to the mental health of coping with working from home, the long hours and lack of separation between private life and work. But we are also starting to see the impact of posture issues and back problems due to low quality equipment. At the same time, 93,000 workers self-reported catching COVID-19 at work over this period. The increase comes at a time when employee health is more in focus than ever and more must be done by businesses across the country to address this. The long-term effect of COVID and working from home can be significant

“Businesses, large and small, have a fundamental duty of care to protect its employees. The long-term impact of serious ill-health conditions can be grave, and if you do not have a health and safety expert within your organisation, it can be hard to know if you’re doing enough to protect your employees. It is very easy to miss the mark, so it is helpful to turn to professional expertise where needed and put robust risk management and software solutions in place to assess and act, in the best interest of your people, which are the most important asset in any organisation.”

Next steps

We partner with hundreds of organisations to help them embed health and safety into the fabric of their business, making sure all employees understand its importance and see it as a priority. In 2022, we’ll be launching our Target Zero Accidents campaign to help businesses drive down incidents even further. We believe one accident is one too many and we want to help prevent as many as we can.

To see how we could help your business, sign up to our webinar Creating a Winning Health and Safety Culture on 27th January at 11 am for expert advice on the practical steps you can take to keep your workplace safe as possible.