5 Biggest Causes of Workplace Fatalities
Workplace Fatalities

5 Biggest Causes of Workplace Fatalities

Even though health and safety in the workplace has come a long way over the years, there are definitely still areas that need our attention.

Recently, the HSE published their annual figures for work-related fatal injuries for the 2018/19 period, and some of the results are shocking.

A total of 147 people were killed between 2018 and 2019 whilst at work, an increase of 6 from the previous year. With numbers like these, it’s clear that health and safety still needs to be a priority for all workplaces.

We’ve decided to take a further look at the most common causes of workplace fatalities and how workers can protect themselves to avoid these incidents.

Falling From Height

From this recent report, we found that falls from a height were the number one type of fatal accident for workers in the 2018/19 period, with 40 of the 147 people unfortunately killed at work all suffering this fate.

Falling from height is a big risk to workers, especially in the construction industry. Working on buildings using scaffolding puts you in a position where slipping and even falling is a possibility, and this can be avoided with some preparation.

As a general rule, anyone working higher than 1.5 metres needs to be wearing sufficient PPE and avoid using any kind of ladder that cannot be secured where possible. We also recommend that harnesses are given to anyone working at any kind of height, and safety nets are used if the work is very high.

It’s also crucial that everyone who is working at height has received the correct training and is fully aware of the risks and how to protect themselves when working that high above the ground.


Struck By Moving Vehicles & Objects

Being struck by either a moving vehicle or an object took the 2nd and 3rd spot on the list of top workplace fatalities, with 30 and 16 killed respectively.

Falling objects from above, reversing vehicles and contact with debris are some of the biggest contributors to worker injury, and can all be avoided through clear communication and preparation.

It should be obvious, but don’t walk in front of a moving vehicles and walk behind them instead, regardless of speed. Make sure that you can clearly see any vehicles that are moving around and make eye contact with the driver/operator to ensure that they know you are there.

Any kind of objects that are being stored at height need to be properly secured, and out of the way where possible. Keep a safe distance whenever objects are being lifted by machinery and use nets to catch any debris that could fall and hurt someone.

As with the majority of entries on this list, the correct PPE is absolutely crucial to the wellbeing of any employee, and hard hats and steel toe capped boots should be worn by everyone on site.

Machinery & Equipment

Injuries caused by machinery and equipment were also among the most common causes of workplace fatalities, and unfortunately resulted in 14 people losing their life.

Working with machinery can be very dangerous, and the risks of use include trapped or crushed body parts and punctured skin. Without the right training or a lack of maintenance/upkeep, the potential for serious injury is huge.

In order to avoid this, sufficient training is absolutely crucial. Make sure that every employee who is operating any type of heavy duty equipment has been signed off and is fully aware how to handle said equipment in a safe manner.

All pieces of equipment should be regularly tested for safety issues and checked for defects and anything that could cause a problem. Regular maintenance is also key to the safety of the equipment, and will go a long way in reducing the amount of worker injuries.

Lastly, make sure that anyone who is either using or located near machinery is not tired or distracted and is fully aware of their surroundings.



Exposure to harmful substances and fumes, especially asbestos can have fatal consequences. While not an instant killer, the long term effects of exposure are deadly.

Asbestos tends to be found in buildings that were built before 2000, and overexposure can result in lung cancer and mesothelioma. Mesothelioma caused by previous exposure actually killed 2,523 in the UK in 2017, so it’s not something to take lightly.

According to the HSE, asbestos still kill around 5,000 workers each year. With numbers like that, it’s so important to protecting ourselves against the risks.

Before working on a site that potentially has asbestos, a risk assessment should be taken to asses whether or not work can be carried out with no risks of exposure. Identify who could be exposed, and the amount of asbestos on a property.

If you are going to be working around asbestos, make sure you have received training to enable you to protect yourself and wear protective masks at all time. The less time you are around asbestos, the better.

Other Statistics Coming From The Report

When we looked further into this report, we ended up finding out some interesting statistics.

For example, construction had up until recently contributed the most towards workplace fatalities, but this year’s numbers show that the agriculture, forestry and fishing industries had a lot more fatal injuries and incidents.

It’s a great thing that the construction industry is improving it’s practises and workers are being looked after, but what has gone wrong in the agriculture industry to result in these numbers?

We also found that the majority of people (107) that were injured over 2018 to 2019 were aged between 16 and 59 years old, with 37 people aged over 60. While there has been a significant reduction in the amount of fatal workplace injuries since 1981, there was actually 6 more deaths at work than 2017/18.

It’s not just workers that are affected, as over 90 members of the public were involved in work related incidents that resulted in death, with around a third of these cases happening on railways.

This information was found from the HSE’s recent report on fatal injuries in Great Britain, and the data covers April 2018 to March 2019.


Where We Come In

Wurkplace can come in and conduct a health and safety audit on your workspace, identifying any risks or areas of concern and providing a detailed risk assessment.

We also have a wide range of online training courses that can keep your employees compliant and give them the knowledge to protect themselves when working. Our courses cover a variety of subjects including Working at Heights, Asbestos Awareness and Manual Handling.

For more information on our Health & Safety packages or online training courses, please get in touch with one of our experts today.

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