In this article, Health and Safety expert, Adam Williams discusses the latest work-related ill health figures published by the HSE.
The latest statistics on work-related Health and Safety in Great Britain have been published on the 23rd November 2022, including the following key annual figures (2021/22).
1.8 million working people suffering from a work-related illness, of which:
Latest figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show a 28% increase in worker injuries year on year. As well as this, it shows a steep increase in ill health compared to pre-pandemic levels.
At a headline level, 1.8 million workers suffered from work-related ill health (new or longstanding) in 2021/22, up 5.8% from last year. This reveals a worrying trend around mental health, although new cases are down, from 850,000 to 722,000.
Equally concerning is the fact that 565,000 workers sustained a non-fatal injury in 2021/22 according to self-reports. This represents a year-on-year increase of 28%. Injuries reported by employers under RIDDOR have also increased, from 51,211 to 61,713. Although, this is likely a result of more people returning to work after the pandemic.
While a 28% increase in work-related injuries is alarming at face value, it’s important to note that this is still lower than post-pandemic levels. Indeed, 693,000 workers sustained a non-fatal injury in 2019/20 and 581,000 workers were injured in 2018/19, the last year unimpacted by the pandemic.
Conversely, the number of new ill-health cases has almost doubled compared to pre-pandemic times, from 497,000 to 722,000. Total cases have also risen from 1.4 million to 1.8 million – an increase of 29%.
Additionally, highlighting the devastating consequences of poor health and safety practices, the report confirms that 123 workers were killed at work during this period, validating provisional data from its fatal injuries report released earlier this year.
Stress, depression, and anxiety remain the leading cause of work-related ill health, accounting for 51% of all ill-health cases.
Echoing previous years, musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) were the second most common cause of ill health. It made up 27% of all cases. That said, in terms of actual figures, the number of MSD cases has remained broadly flat, increasing marginally from 470,000 to 477,000.
Meanwhile, though the total number of workers suffering from work-related stress, depression or anxiety has increased from 822,000 to 914,000. However, there has been a 17.5% drop in new cases, from 451,000 to 372,000.
Sector-wise, human health/social work and public administration/defence have the highest rates of work-related ill health. Notably, while Education remains in third with 160,000 ill-health cases (59% of which are related to stress, depression and anxiety), it seems some progress is being made. The rate of ill health per 100,000 workers is no longer statistically significantly higher than the all-industry average.
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