When they happen, workplace injuries can cost many thousands of pounds to both employer and employee. Here are statistics gathered from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Gov.uk showing the number of injuries, the most common workplace injuries, the cost of workplace injuries and the worst industries for accidents.
- Number of Workplace Injuries
- Most Common Workplace Injuries in the UK
- Cost of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses
- Workplace Injuries by Industry
Number of Workplace Injuries
In the 2018/19 reporting year, RIDDOR data shows there were 69,208 company-reported non-fatal workplace injuries to employees in Great Britain, and Labour Force Survey (LFS) data reports another 581,000 self-reported injuries, totaling 650,208 workplace injuries for the year.
Of the company-reported injuries (which tend to be more serious), 51,413 incapacitated the worker by 7 days or more, representing 74% of all injuries. The number of workplace accidents has declined 6% in the four years from 2014/15.
|Number of Reported Non-fatal Injuries to Employees in Great Britain||LFS||RIDDOR||Total|
How frequent are workplace injuries? It depends on if you're looking at self-reported LFS data or company-reported RIDDOR data. According to LFS there were 1,609 workplace injuries per 100,000 employees in 2018/19, but according to RIDDOR there were just 254 injuries per 100,000 employees (189 of which kept the worker out for at least 7 days). Read more how this is broken out by industry below. Now let's see which injuries are most common at work.
Most Common Non-Fatal Workplace Injuries
There are three factors to consider when analysing the most common workplace injuries: the type of accident (e.g., struck by object, slip, trip or fall, etc.), the nature of the injury (e.g., sprain, fracture, laceration, etc.) and the body part injured (e.g., head, eye, back, etc.).
Kind of Accident
The most common type of workplace accident causing injury to employees happens while handling, lifting or carrying something—these accidents can cause back injuries, wrist injuries, etc. and accounted for 20% of workplace injuries.
Slips, trips or falls are the 2nd most common type of workplace accident in Great Britain, accounting for an estimated 19% of all work injuries (18% of self-reported injuries to LFS data and 29% of RIDDOR-reported accidents). These kinds of accidents can cause injury of ankles, back, wrists, heads, etc.
Being hit by a moving object accounted for another 8% of workplace injuries, as did acts of violence (i.e., being physically assaulted by someone).
|8 Most Common Kinds of Non-Fatal Workplace Injuries||Labour Force Survey (LFS)||RIDDOR||Average Percentage|
|1||Injured while handling, lifting or carrying||118,000||13,940||20%|
|2||Slipped, tripped or fell on the same level||104,000||20,022||19%|
|3||Hit by moving, flying, falling object||48,000||7,089||8%|
|4||Physically assaulted by a person||46,000||5,422||8%|
|5||Contact with moving machinery||44,000||2,615||7%|
|6||Fell from a height||39,000||5,296||7%|
|7||Hit something fixed or stationary||23,000||2,451||4%|
|8||Injured by an animal||12,000||648||2%|
|Other kinds of accident||138,000||8,557||23%|
|All accident kinds||582,000||69,208||100%|
Nature of Injury
The most common workplace injuries are sprains and strains, accounting for 28% of all injuries last year. A close second are superficial injuries, which account for 21% of all injuries. Fractures represent a further 17% of job-related injuries. Of note, fractures are less likely to lead to long-term incapacitation compared to sprains and strains.
|Most Common Non-Fatal Workplace Injuries||LFS||RIDDOR||Percentage|
|Sprains and strains||145,000||19,490||28%|
|Lacerations and open wounds||77,000||6,783||14%|
Site of Injury
There is no LFS data for the site of injury for self-reported injuries, but we can look at the RIDDOR data (to reiterate, this data only represents a portion of workplace injuries—those reported by a company).
In terms of general parts of the body, upper limbs are most commonly injured in workplace-related accident in Great Britain, with 26,139 RIDDOR-reported injuries affecting the fingers, thumbs, hands, wrists or the rest of the arm (23% of workplace injuries). Specifically, there were 7,579 injuries to one or more fingers/thumb(s), 4,814 injuries to wrists and 4,677 injuries to hands. 70% of upper limb injuries keep an employee off work for over 7 days.
However, the back is the specific body part most commonly injured at work. In the 2018/19 reporting year there were 10,347 back injuries to employees reported in Great Britain, representing 15% of injuries. Back injuries typically keep an employee out of work for a long time, with 97% of injuries incapacitating an employee for over 7 days.
There were 5,910 head injuries due to work last year (9% of the total), 4,446 of which kept the employee out for 7+ days. Of head injuries, 814 were related specifically to the eye (1% of all injuries).
Ankles are another body part commonly injured at work—there were 5,832 ankle injuries in 2018/19 (8% of all injuries), but only 63% of ankle injuries incapacitated a worker for at least 7 days.
|Number of RIDDOR reported non-fatal injuries to employees||Over 7-day incapacitation||Total||Percentage of Total|
|All head injuries||4,446||5,910||9%|
|Other parts of face||893||1,347||2%|
|Head (excluding face)||2,588||3,477||5%|
|Several locations of head||133||168||0%|
|All torso injuries||13,654||15,596||23%|
|Several locations of torso||583||796||1%|
|All upper limb injuries||18,188||26,139||38%|
|One or more finger/thumb(s)||7,031||7,579||11%|
|Rest of upper limb||5,570||8,344||12%|
|Several locations of upper limb||602||725||1%|
|All lower limb injuries||13,224||19,287||28%|
|One or more toes||881||894||1%|
|Rest of lower limb||6,439||7,984||12%|
|Several locations of lower limb||448||591||1%|
|All RIDDOR injuries||51,413||69,208||100%|
Cost of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses
How much do workplace injuries and illness cost? Let's look at HSE data for costs to both employer and employee.
Costs to the Employer of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses
According to the HSE, a fatal employee accident costs a business just shy of £100k. Non-fatal injuries cost a business £1,400 on average, but injuries that incapacitate an employee for at least 7 days cost close to 4X as much (£5,100). Illnesses caused by work have a larger financial impact on a business, with an average cost of £4,000—but work-related illnesses keeping an employee out for at least a week cost a business £8,300 on average.
|Costs to Employers of Workplace Accidents and Illnesses|
|7 or more days absence||£5,100|
|Up to 6 days absence||£110|
|7 or more days absence||£8,300|
|Up to 6 days absence||£150|
The high cost of injuries and illnesses in the workplace contributes to the cost of employers' liability insurance, which is required by law in most cases.
Costs to the Employee of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses
The cost to an employee of a workplace injury or illness can be much greater. The cost to an employee is more than monetary—it includes both a 'human' and a 'financial' element. What does 'human' cost refer to? In addition to financial costs, employers' liability insurance payouts can compensate for the ‘human costs’ of an injury—this refers to quality of life losses.
For example, the average fatal injury costs an employee £214,300 (e.g., in lost wages) but an additional £1,203,000 in 'human' costs (e.g., the quality of life impact on the family of the deceased).
|Costs to Employees of Workplace Accidents and Illnesses||Human cost||Financial cost||Total cost|
|7 or more days absence||£19,700||-£660||£19,000|
|Up to 6 days absence||£330||£50||£370|
|7 or more days absence||£20,000||£730||£20,700|
|Up to 6 days absence||£360||£90||£450|
Costs are just one reason that workplace safety is so important.
Non-Fatal Workplace Injuries by Industry
When comparing workplace injury statistics across industries, it's useful to look at both the rate of injuries (e.g., the number of injuries per employee) and the actual number of injuries. The rate of injuries in an industry gives a sense of how dangerous a specific line of work is. For this section we considered both LFS and RIDDOR data.
Rate of Workplace Injuries by Industry
The industry with the highest overall rate of non-fatal workplace injuries in the Great Britain is agriculture, forestry and fishing, with a weighted average of 3,908 non-fatal injuries per 100,000 employees. This industry has the highest rate of self-reported injuries via the Labour Force Survey; but a lower rate of reported injuries compared to other industries.
Electrical, plumbing and other construction installation activities has the 2nd highest overall rate of workplace injuries: 2,900 out of 100,000. Again, the majority of these are self reported via the LFS. Construction is the third most dangerous industry, with 2,485 out of 100,000 reporting an injury each year, which contributes to the high cost of construction insurance.
The industry with the highest rate of company-reported injuries via RIDDOR is water supply, sewerage, waste management and remediation activities.
|Rate of Non-Fatal Injuries, per 100,000 employees||LFS||RIDDOR||Weighted Average|
|Agriculture, forestry and fishing||4,110||507||3,908|
|Electrical, plumbing and other construction installation activities||2,960||161||2,900|
|Wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles||2,230||200||2,076|
|Accommodation and food service activities||2,250||276||2,043|
|Public administration and defence; compulsory social security||2,190||208||2,008|
|Water supply; sewerage, waste management and remediation activities||2,150||960||1,807|
|Professional, scientific and technical activities||1,800||22||1,763|
|Transportation and storage||1,860||768||1,585|
|Human health and social work activities||1,790||310||1,581|
|Arts, entertainment and recreation||1,540||172||1,431|
|Administrative and support service activities||1,490||262||1,334|
|Financial and insurance activities||400||19||384|
|Mining and quarrying||-||194||194|
|Information and communication||-||41||41|
|Real estate activities||41||41|
Number of Workplace Injuries by Industry
If we consider not the rate of injuries but the actual number of injuries, then repair and trade of motor vehicles and motorcycles has the worst injury statistics, with 97,401 non-fatal injuries last year (90,000 self reported and 7,401 reported by companies via RIDDOR).
Human health and social work activities (e.g., doctors, nurses, care workers, etc.) ranked 2nd with 12,148 company-reported injuries (a nearly identical number of injuries to the manufacturing sector) and 74,000 self-reported injuries. The industry the the third highest number of workplace-related injuries was manufacturing, with 12,151 company-reported, non-fatal injuries and 61,000 self-reported injuries.
|Number of Non-Fatal Injuries||LFS||RIDDOR||Total|
|Wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles||90,000||7,401||97,401|
|Human health and social work activities||74,000||12,148||86,148|
|Public administration and defence; compulsory social security||42,000||4,245||46,245|
|Accommodation and food service activities||38,000||4,451||42,451|
|Transportation and storage||29,000||9,780||38,780|
|Administrative and support service activities||22,000||3,208||25,208|
|Professional, scientific and technical activities||18,000||386||18,386|
|Agriculture, forestry and fishing||14,000||831||14,831|
|Arts, entertainment and recreation||13,000||1,126||14,126|
|Electrical, plumbing and other construction installation activities||13,000||287||13,287|
|Water supply; sewerage, waste management and remediation activities||5,000||2,023||7,023|
|Financial and insurance activities||5,000||220||5,220|
|Information and communication||-||437||437|
|Mining and quarrying||0||232||232|
|Real estate activities||0||123||123|
To calculate the figures in this study, we analysed data from both the Labour Force Survey (LFS) and the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR). LFS reflects self-reported injuries and RIDDOR data reflects injuries reported by companies.
RIDDOR is the best data source available for some workplace injury metrics in the UK (e.g., body parts most commonly injured), however non-fatal injuries are substantially under-reported via RIDDOR so actual numbers of injuries are higher than the RIDDOR figures, which is why we also included LFS data where available.