Health, Safety & Environment Consultants

Workplace Fatalities 2017/2018 – What Are the Trends, and How Do We Prevent Accidents?


The HSE has just released figures for workplace fatalities between April 2017 and March 2018 and they make for frightening reading. During this period, there were 144 workplace fatalities. That’s 144 deaths that should not have happened. What is more worrying is that this is more than the 137 workplace fatalities than happened between April 2016 and March 2017.

The industries with the highest number of fatalities remain the construction industry with 38 fatalities (up from 30 in 2016/2017) followed by the agriculture industry with 29 fatalities (down from 30 in 2016/2017). When we look at the fatality rate by industry it becomes even more concerning with a fatality rate of 8.44 for the agriculture industry and 10.26 for the waste and recycling industry who had 12 fatalities in 2017/2018.

As in 2016/2017, the main cause of fatalities across all industries are falls from height and being struck by a moving vehicle, indicating that managing the risks of falls from height and traffic management need improving.

This begs the questions of how do we manage health and safety to ensure our workers remain safe? Quite simply it starts with the risk assessment. Many businesses have them but do not review them. So when should a risk assessment be reviewed? The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) says risk should be assessed "every time there are new machines, substances and procedures, which could lead to new hazards". It is also advisable to review risk assessments periodically as a fresh set of eyes may yield more information on hazards and risk control measures. If we fail to identify the hazards we will undoubtedly fail to have mitigation measures in place to control the risk of harm occurring.

Some of the things we can do to reduce the risk of falls from height include:

  • Eliminate the need to work from height where possible.
  • Ensure permanent safe access where work from height is required.
  • Ensure edge protection and guard rails are fitted where work from height occurs.
  • Only use ladders for access, never as working platforms.
  • Ensure surfaces are suitable and do not present a slip hazard (such as when working on top of a plant).
  • Use of safety nets, lines, and harnesses.

 Some of the things we can do to reduce the risk of being struck by vehicles include:

  • Segregation of pedestrians from moving vehicles by the installation of physical barriers.
  • Reduced speed limit of 5mph on worksites.
  • Traffic calming measures such as speed bumps.
  • Installation of blind spot mirrors to enable drivers to see around corners and areas where visibility may be poor.
  • Increased lighting to enable pedestrians to be seen.
  • Hi-Vis to be worn by anyone walking in areas where traffic movement occurs.

The best solution may not always seem obvious. This is why it is so important to consult with the workforce and involve those doing the job to come up with suitable controls. Those doing the job are often best placed to come up with the most effective solution. As well as being a legal requirement to consult the workforce, it also has the benefit that the workforce then own the process, as they are a part of developing the solution to reducing the risk. For more information on how to conduct a risk assessment, see our blog on the Five Steps to Risk Assessment.

If you feel you need help with conducting risk assessments, or any part of your health, safety and environment management system, contact us to find out how we can help you: or 01843 6399711.

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