Study: A Total of 32.5 Million Workdays Were Impacted by Work-related Accidents and Illnesses in the 2019/20 Period.
The most recent data from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) unveils the impact of workplace injuries and ill-health in the UK during the 2019/20 period. It reveals that a staggering 32.5 million working days were lost as a result of accidents, long-term injuries, and ill-health.
This equates to approximately 1.6 million workers experiencing health issues directly related to their workplace. These work-related health problems can be grouped into four main categories:
- Musculoskeletal disorders
- Occupational lung diseases
- Workplace injuries
- Work-related stress, depression, or anxiety
Despite these statistics, Britain remains a remarkably safe place to work compared to other countries. The rate of fatal injuries stands at just 0.52 per 100,000 employees, significantly lower than Germany (0.7), Poland (0.81), Italy (0.93), Spain (1.7), and France (3.0).
Let us delve into these figures and explore how health and safety legislation in the UK may play a role in preventing workplace fatalities. Additionally, we will consider how leaders can enhance their efforts to protect their employees even further.
The report highlights that a staggering £16.2 billion was lost in the 2018/19 period due to work-related injuries and ill-health, including long-term illnesses like cancer. Injuries alone accounted for £5.6 billion in business costs.
Apart from the human toll of employees suffering and being unable to perform their duties, companies must also consider the financial burden imposed by long-term injuries and illnesses.
The sectors reporting the highest levels of workplace injuries are:
- Agriculture, forestry, and fishing
- Wholesale/retail trade and repair of motor vehicles
- Accommodation/food service activities
These industries are more prone to social and environmental risk factors, such as falls from heights in construction, warehouse accidents in manufacturing roles, and working alone with the public in retail or real estate industries.
According to a previous report on non-fatal injuries, the leading causes of accidents at work include slips, trips, and falls on the same level (29%), handling, lifting, or carrying (20%), being struck by a moving object (10%), acts of violence (8%), and falls from heights (8%).
Taking these factors into account, the lower rates of workplace fatalities in the UK compared to other European and international countries may be attributed to the robust regulations that British businesses must adhere to regarding the health and safety of their employees.
In the UK, employers have a legal obligation to take all necessary measures to assess, mitigate, and protect against workplace risks. While there has been a slight decline in convictions, the HSE issued 7,075 notices in 2019/20, resulting in £35.8 million in fines from prosecutions.
One significant concern for businesses across the UK is the number of working days lost due to stress, depression, and anxiety. In 2019/20, 55% of all lost working days were attributed to these mental health issues, whereas musculoskeletal disorders accounted for 27% of the total.
Combined with other illnesses causing employees to miss work, a staggering 32.5 million working days were lost due to work-related ill-health during this period.
The industries most affected by mental health disorders like stress, depression, and anxiety include:
- Electricity, gas, steam, and air conditioning suppliers (3,020 cases)
- Public administration/defense (2,960 cases)
- Human health/social work (2,350 cases)
- Education (2,170 cases)
These 828,000 reported cases (including 347,000 newly recorded cases) resulted in a total of 17.9 million working days missed throughout 2019/20. These cases are believed to be caused by a combination of factors, including workload, lack of support, violence, threats, bullying, and workplace changes.
The recent COVID-19 crisis has only worsened issues like workplace changes, increased workloads, and reduced social interactions with colleagues. In June 2020, the Office of National Statistics revealed that the number of adults experiencing symptoms of depression had nearly doubled.
However, there are various health and safety measures that can be implemented to address the problems that contribute to chronic stress and anxiety.
When employees know that their well-being is a top priority for the company, they feel more supported and are more likely to approach their managers with any issues they may be facing.
The HSE's alarming statistics emphasize the importance for businesses to prioritize the health and safety of their employees.
The report also emphasizes the significance of caring for all aspects of employee well-being, from preventing workplace accidents to reducing exposure to hazardous substances and ensuring that workers are not subjected to excessive stress.
Lone workers are particularly vulnerable to these issues, experiencing increased isolation and sometimes facing the threat of violence while on duty.
Without the proper tools, these workers are at a higher risk in the event of accidents, as they are not physically close to colleagues or supervisors who can alert others if needed.
To mitigate the potential for injury or illness when working alone, it is crucial to equip lone workers (as well as all other workers) with means to protect themselves. This can include devices like lone worker alarms, which enable users to call for help or act as a deterrent in confrontational situations. Many of these devices also feature Man Down sensors that can raise an alarm if the wearer becomes incapacitated.
To further mitigate risks and prevent work-related injuries and illnesses, businesses should take advantage of the tools already available to them. Mobile workforce management software and lone worker devices not only help organizations meet HSE requirements but also empower employees to ensure their own safety.
If you want to learn more about how lone worker strategies and tools can benefit your business, contact one of our experts here or give us a call at 020 3991 5555.
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