A Closer Look at UK’s Health and Safety Landscape in 2023

The year 2023 has been a pivotal one for health and safety in the UK. We’ve seen some significant changes, and there’s a lot to unpack. So, let’s roll up our sleeves and get into the nitty-gritty.

First off, let’s talk about the good news. Workplace fatalities are down. In fact, 2023 saw the lowest number of fatal injuries in the last five years, with 111 recorded cases. That’s a significant drop from 142 in 2022. This is no small feat. It’s a testament to the tireless work of countless individuals, organisations, and regulatory bodies dedicated to making our workplaces safer. But while we should celebrate this achievement, we can’t afford to become complacent. There’s still work to be done.

Falls from height remain the most common cause of fatal injuries, making up 29% of all cases. This highlights the ongoing risks in industries like construction and maintenance where working at height is a regular part of the job. It’s a stark reminder that we need to keep pushing for better safety measures, training, and equipment to protect workers in these high-risk roles.

Being struck by a moving vehicle isn’t far behind, accounting for 20% of fatalities. This is a particular concern in sectors like logistics, warehousing, and agriculture where vehicles are frequently in operation. It’s clear that more needs to be done to improve vehicle safety, whether that’s through better training for drivers, improved site layouts, or the use of technology to prevent accidents.

And let’s not forget about the dangers of being hit by a moving object, which caused 16% of fatal injuries. This can happen in any workplace, from a construction site where materials are being moved around, to a retail environment where stock is being handled. It’s a reminder that good housekeeping, proper storage, and the correct use of equipment are crucial in every workplace, no matter the industry.

When we look at non-fatal injuries, the picture is a bit more complex. We saw 693,000 cases in 2023. The usual suspects top the list: lifting and handling injuries, slips, trips or falls on the same level, and falls from a height. These might not be life-threatening, but they can seriously impact a person’s life and well-being. They can lead to long-term health issues, time off work, and even career changes. It’s clear that preventing these injuries needs to be a top priority for every employer.

Now, let’s talk about occupational diseases. Around 1.6 million workers were dealing with a work-related illness in 2023. Musculoskeletal disorders, such as back pain or repetitive strain injury, were common, often caused by poor ergonomics or overexertion. But it’s not just physical health that’s at stake. Mental health issues like stress, depression or anxiety were also prevalent. This highlights a crucial point: health and safety isn’t just about preventing accidents. It’s also about creating an environment that supports mental health. Employers need to be proactive in managing workloads, preventing bullying and harassment, and providing support for employees who are struggling.

So, how does the UK stack up against other countries? Pretty well, actually. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), the UK has one of the lowest rates of fatal injuries in the workplace compared to countries like the United States, Russia, and India. That’s something to be proud of. But it doesn’t mean we can rest on our laurels. It’s a reminder that health and safety is a global issue, and we can always learn from the successes and failures of other countries.

The bottom line is this: we’ve made progress, but there’s still a long way to go. The numbers tell us that we need to keep pushing for better safety measures, especially when it comes to preventing falls from heights and handling mental health in the workplace.

In 2023, we’ve seen what we can achieve when we focus on health and safety. Let’s keep that momentum going. Because everyone deserves to work in a safe and healthy environment.

Don’t wait till it’s too late! Prevent accidents from happening in your company, click here to find out more about our Health and Safety Risk Assessments.

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Adam Cooke
Adam Cooke
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