Construction deaths drop 25% in year to March 2022

Construction hats illustration
Ten fewer construction operatives were killed while at work between April 2021 and March 2022 than in the previous annual period, a 25% reduction, reports the Health and Safety Executive.

The number of construction deaths in the latest reporting period fell from 40 to 30, compared to a rolling average of 36 annual deaths over the previous five years.

Despite the reduction, construction’s death rate last year was the highest of any industrial sector, the figures published by the HSE in July revealed. In total, 123 workers were killed in work-related accidents in Great Britain in the last year, with 22 deaths in agriculture, forestry and fishing, and the same number in manufacturing. 

Agriculture, forestry and fishing had the highest rate of fatal injury per 100,000 workers, as fewer people work in those industries than in construction. 

Construction deaths drop - Fatal injuries to workers by age

The average rate of fatal injuries for employees in construction per 100,000 between 2017/18 and 2021/22 was 1.73. For the self-employed it was 1.49. Of those killed during construction work in 2021/22, 64% were employed and 36% were self-employed.

The three most common causes of fatal injuries continued to be falling from height (29), being struck by a moving vehicle (23) and being struck by a moving object (18). These accounted for over half of all fatal accidents to workers in 2021/22.

Long-term downward trend

The 123 worker deaths in 2021/22 is 22 fewer than the previous year, though it is in line with pre-pandemic figures. There has been a long-term downward trend in the rate of fatal injuries to workers, though in the years prior to the coronavirus pandemic the rate was broadly flat.

Construction deaths drop - Rate of fatal injury per 100,000 workers

Eighty members of the public were killed following a work-related accident in 2021/22, an increase on the previous year but below the pre-pandemic level. The figures relate to work-related accidents and do not include deaths arising from occupational diseases or diseases arising from certain occupational exposures (including Covid-19). 

However, the HSE published the annual figures for mesothelioma, a cancer that can be caused by exposure to asbestos, which showed that 2,544 people died from the disease in 2020. This is in line with the average of 2,523 deaths over the previous eight years. Current mesothelioma deaths reflect exposure to asbestos that mainly occurred before the 1980s and annual deaths are expected to decline during the next decade.

Construction deaths drop - Fatal injuries to workers between 2011 and 2022

Based on the most recent comparable data to 2018, the UK consistently shows one of the lowest rates of fatal injury compared to countries across the EU. In 2018 the UK standardised rate, at 0.61 per 100,000 employees, was among the lowest of all European countries and compares favourably with most large economies such as France, Italy, Spain and Poland. Germany has a lower rate at 0.55 per 100,000 employees.

HSE’s chief executive Sarah Albon said: “While Great Britain is one of the safest countries in the world to work, figures show we must continue to ensure safety remains a priority. Every loss of life is a tragedy and we are committed to making workplaces safer and holding employers to account for their actions, as part of our mission to protect people and places.” 

Construction deaths drop - Fatal injuries to workers by type

The most common kinds of fatal accidents to workers in 2021/22 continue to be falling from a height, being struck by moving vehicle and being hit by moving, including flying/falling objects. These accounted for over half of all fatal accidents to workers in 2021/22.

Note: Chart shows all accident kinds accounting for 10 or more deaths in 2021/22

Story for PSJ? Get in touch via email: [email protected]

Latest articles in Features