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Workers suffering from the most illnesses and injuries by sector

When you head out the door to go to work, the last thing you expect to happen is to become victim to an illness or injury. To find out which industries around the UK have the highest injury and illness rates, we’ve teamed up with True Solicitors to shine some light on how an injury at work is more common than we think.

To understand the figures we have researched below, it’s important to recognise that between July and September of 2017, 32.06 million people were employed in Britain.


Around 609,000 workers throughout the UK suffered from a non-fatal injury, however an astonishing 1.3 million workers experienced some sort of illness that they believe was caused or worsened by their workplace throughout 2016/17. Although this did vary depending on the industry the individual was working in. But what industry had the most and least illnesses and injuries?

*Please be aware that: work related injuries and illnesses are per 100,000 workers.

Those employed in the health and social care sector were known to have the most work-related illnesses, with 4,500. 45% of workers suffered from stress, depression or anxiety and 36% had a musculoskeletal disorder, the remaining 18% was accounted for by ‘other illness’. Looking at workplace injuries, the figure dropped to 1,780 where a slip, trip or fall was the most common accident at 27%. This is a surprise when an act of violence was ranked at 21%.

But where did the most workplace injuries occur? We found that it was those working in agriculture, with 3,960. However, there was a mix of both fatal and non-fatal injuries. 23% of fatal injuries came from an individual being struck by a moving vehicle and the most common non-fatal injury stood at 20% which was either a slip, trip or fall. When it came to illnesses in this sector, 48% of these illnesses were musculoskeletal disorders.

The industry with the lowest amount of illnesses caused in the workplace was those working in the accommodation or food sectors, at 2,060. However, when we looked at the amount of workplace injuries and compared them to other industries, statistically it was significantly higher at 2,460.

At 520 workplace injuries per 100,000 employees, the communications sector had the least. This was incredibly low in comparison to the amount of work-related illnesses in the same sector which stood at 2,130.

From the study above, we can see that an illness or injury at work is possible in any industry – despite some jobs being more practical than others.

Non-fatal injuries

From the same study, 175,000 of the non-fatal injuries that were reported by the individual saw them have more than a week away from work to help them recover from their injury. 434,000 of those injured stayed off work for up to seven days.

But which gender suffered from the most non-fatal injuries? It was reported that 38% of them occurred with female workers and 62% of male workers. 70,116 of non-fatal injuries were reported by employers.

The area in which most non-fatal injuries occurred were slips and falls at 29%, followed by handling objects at 22%, an individual being hit by an object at 10%, someone falling from a height or being a victim of violence at 7%, and contact with machinery or being struck by something that is motionless at 4%.

Fatal injuries

When it comes to the amount of fatal injuries in the workplace, it was found that the following industries saw the most: construction (30), agriculture (27), manufacturing (19), transport and storage (14), and waste (14).

When we considered the age range of people where injuries mostly take place, it was found that people between the age of 16 and 59 suffered the most (98). Injuries were also common with those over the age of 60 (34).

But what was the common cause of fatal injuries? These were ranked as follows: being struck by a moving vehicle (31), falling from a height (25), being struck by a moving object (20), being trapped by something that has collapsed/overturned (10), contact with moving machinery (8), and contact with electricity (8).

Work-related illness

40% of the 1.3 million workers in the UK experience depression and anxiety in the workplace, likely caused by stress. 31% suffer from musculoskeletal disorders and 21% fall under the ‘other type of illness category’ — all figures obtained from analysis between 2016 and 2017.

Between 2014/15 and 2016/17, the split between genders for workplace illnesses was 50%.

It’s vital to understand how illnesses are caused. 13,000 deaths are caused each year due to exposure of chemicals or dust at work, which shows that there is a common problem in workplaces that needs to be prevented otherwise more people will experience harm.

Results in Europe

In the year 2014, it was found that 0.55 of workers in the UK suffered from a fatal injury – one of the lowest results across Europe. Looking at other major countries across the continent, France stood at 3.4 and Germany at 0.81. European surveys that have been carried out revealed that most workers in Britain feel that their job does not put them in harm. However, a study carried out by the European Working Conditions Survey in 2015 said that 18% of British workers believed the opposite.

92% of businesses in Britain carry out regular health and safety risk assessments and this could be the reason as to why the UK has some of the lowest results in Europe. This is considerably higher than the likes of Germany (66%) and France (56%).


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