Workplace Injury Statistics UK 2020

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

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 BritainLFSRIDDORTotal
2018/19581,00069,208650,208
2017/18555,00071,531626,531
2016/17609,00071,147680,147
2015/16621,00073,441694,441
2014/15612,00077,270689,270
Number of workplace injuries and illnesses UK

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 InjuriesLabour Force Survey (LFS)RIDDORAverage Percentage
1Injured while handling, lifting or carrying118,00013,94020%
2Slipped, tripped or fell on the same level104,00020,02219%
3Hit by moving, flying, falling object48,0007,0898%
4Physically assaulted by a person46,0005,4228%
5Contact with moving machinery44,0002,6157%
6Fell from a height39,0005,2967%
7Hit something fixed or stationary23,0002,4514%
8Injured by an animal12,0006482%
Other kinds of accident138,0008,55723%
All accident kinds582,00069,208100%
Chart showing the 10 most common workplace injuries
Most common causes of workplace injuries

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 InjuriesLFSRIDDORPercentage
Sprains and strains145,00019,49028%
Superficial injuries119,0001,91021%
Fracture77,00019,20917%
Lacerations and open wounds77,0006,78314%
Burns25,0001,8605%
Dislocation21,0001,0484%
All injuries582,00069,208100%
Number of workplace injuries and illnesses UK

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 employeesOver 7-day incapacitationTotalPercentage of Total
All head injuries4,4465,9109%
Eye7298141%
Ear1031040%
Other parts of face8931,3472%
Head (excluding face)2,5883,4775%
Several locations of head1331680%
All torso injuries13,65415,59623%
Neck1,1921,2592%
Back9,99110,34715%
Trunk1,8883,1945%
Several locations of torso5837961%
All upper limb injuries18,18826,13938%
One or more finger/thumb(s)7,0317,57911%
Hand3,2984,6777%
Wrist1,6874,8147%
Rest of upper limb5,5708,34412%
Several locations of upper limb6027251%
All lower limb injuries13,22419,28728%
One or more toes8818941%
Foot1,8043,9866%
Ankle3,6525,8328%
Rest of lower limb6,4397,98412%
Several locations of lower limb4485911%
Several locations1,0761,2942%
General locations4975921%
Unspecified locations3283901%
All RIDDOR injuries51,41369,208100%

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
Fatal accidents£99,700
Non-fatal injuries£1,400
7 or more days absence£5,100
Up to 6 days absence£110
Ill Health£4,000
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 IllnessesHuman costFinancial costTotal cost
Fatal accidents£1,203,000£214,300£1,417,000
Non-fatal injuries£5,300-£130£5,200
7 or more days absence£19,700-£660£19,000
Up to 6 days absence£330£50£370
Ill Health£9,700£400£10,100
7 or more days absence£20,000£730£20,700
Up to 6 days absence£360£90£450

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.

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 employeesLFSRIDDORWeighted Average
Agriculture, forestry and fishing4,1105073,908
Electrical, plumbing and other construction installation activities2,9601612,900
Construction2,6603662,485
Wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles2,2302002,076
Accommodation and food service activities2,2502762,043
Public administration and defence; compulsory social security2,1902082,008
Manufacturing2,1304681,854
Water supply; sewerage, waste management and remediation activities2,1509601,807
Professional, scientific and technical activities1,800221,763
Transportation and storage1,8607681,585
Human health and social work activities1,7903101,581
Arts, entertainment and recreation1,5401721,431
Education1,5401461,425
Administrative and support service activities1,4902621,334
Financial and insurance activities40019384
Mining and quarrying-194194
Information and communication-4141
Real estate activities4141
All industries1,7802541,609

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 InjuriesLFSRIDDORTotal
Wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles90,0007,40197,401
Human health and social work activities74,00012,14886,148
Manufacturing61,00012,15173,151
Construction59,0004,87263,872
Education51,0004,56855,568
Public administration and defence; compulsory social security42,0004,24546,245
Accommodation and food service activities38,0004,45142,451
Transportation and storage29,0009,78038,780
Administrative and support service activities22,0003,20825,208
Professional, scientific and technical activities18,00038618,386
Agriculture, forestry and fishing14,00083114,831
Arts, entertainment and recreation13,0001,12614,126
Electrical, plumbing and other construction installation activities13,00028713,287
Water supply; sewerage, waste management and remediation activities5,0002,0237,023
Financial and insurance activities5,0002205,220
Information and communication-437437
Mining and quarrying0232232
Real estate activities0123123
All industries550,00069,208619,208

FAQs

According to RIDDOR data, there were 13,940 non-fatal workplace injuries caused by handling, lifting or carrying in the 2018/19 reporting year in Great Britain; self-reported Labour Force Survey data shows another 118,000 injuries of the same cause. Overall, this accounted for 20% of all workplace injuries (or 26% of injuries that incapacitated an employee for 7 days or more).
The total costs to individual, employer and government of workplace injuries and illnesses was £15.0 billion in 2017/18—£9.8 attributed to ill health and £5.2 billion to injury. The majority of this total (£8.6 billion) was borne by individuals, £3.4 billion by the government and £3.0 billion by the employer.
The most common kind of non-fatal workplace injury is being injured while handling, lifting or carrying (accounting for 20% of injuries); the most common nature of workplace injury is sprains and strains (28% of all injuries); and the most common specific body part to be injured is the back (15% of injuries).
Depending on the circumstances of your injury you may be able to sue your employer. Most employers have employers' liability insurance in place which can cover these situations.
Read the guidance on reporting workplace injuries here.

Methodology

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.

Sources

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