HSE Statistics Show Almost Half Construction Accidents were Falls From Height

STATISTICS RELEASED by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show almost half of all construction accidents (47%) were from falls from height.

There were 40 fatal injuries in 2019/20, slightly up on the 5-year average of 37 per year.

Work-related ill heath

There were 81,000 construction workers suffering from work-related ill health (new or long-standing) in 2019/20. Over half of these (57%) were muscular-skeletal injuries, accounting for about 2% of the construction workforce. This is roughly double that seen across all other industries, where the rate of muscular-skeletal disorders is 1.1%.

A quarter of work-related ill health cases (26%) were due to mental ill health. Cases of stress, depression or anxiety are much lower in construction (0.9%) than the average of all industries (1.6%).

Occupational exposure to cancer-causing material is much higher in construction than the national average. There are about 8,000 cancer deaths each year of construction workers, accounting for 5% of all cancer deaths.

The HSE annual report includes statistics for the UK construction industry, which accounts for about 7% of the national workforce.

The emergence of COVID-19 as a national health issue at the end of the final quarter of 2019/20 does not appear to be the main driver of changes seen in the 2019/20 data, although it is possible that it may be a contributory factor, says HSE.

Non-fatal construction injuries

Other HSE figures show that around 61,000 construction workers sustained non-fatal injuries in 2019/2020 and most of these were slip, trips and falls (26%).

Non-fatal falls from height were a fifth (19%) of non-fatal injuries, well above the UK national rate of 8%.

Over a quarter (27%) of non-fatal injuries led to a more than 7-day absence from work.

In 2019/2020, the estimated economic cost of workplace injury and new cases of work-related ill health in construction was £1.2 billion. This stemmed from around 2.1 million working days lost due to workplace injury (25%) and work-related illness (75%).

HSE construction enforcement

Provisional figures for 2019/20p show a total of 2,031 notices issued by HSE inspectors in Construction, accounting for around 56% of the total prohibition notices issued by HSE in 2019/20.

There has been a decrease in the number of notices issued this year compared to the previous year (2,969 in 2018/19)

There were 143 prosecutions with £8.3 million issued in fines, which averages over £60,000 per conviction.

Comparing the construction figures to national statistics for 2019/2020, it shows there were:

  • 40 fatal injuries in construction (compared to 111 at work nationally)
  • 81,000 construction workers suffering from a work-related illness (compared to1.6 million workers nationally)
  • 2.1 million working days lost due to work-related illness and workplace injury in construction (compared to 38.8 million nationally)
  • 143 cases in construction were prosecuted and resulted in a conviction. (compared to 325 prosecutions nationally) Fines from convictions totalled £8.5 million in construction (compared to £35.8 million nationally).

The full HSE report on Construction 2019-2020 can be viewed here.