The sectors with the most workplace injuries and illnesses

Returning home from work with an injury or an illness is something that should not happen as often as it does. To find out which industries around the UK have the highest injury and illness rates, we’ve teamed up with True Solicitors to shine light on how an injury at work is more common than we think.

To put this article into context, between July and September 2017, there was 32.06 million people employed in the UK.


From research carried out in the UK, during 2016/17, there was over 1.3 million workers that suffered from an illness and over 600,000 people who were victim to a non-fatal injury in the workplace according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Although this did vary depending on the industry the individual was working in. But what industry had the most and least illnesses and injuries?

It’s important to understand that all work-related injuries and illnesses are calculated per 100,000 employees.

At 4,500, those that worked in the health and social care sector suffered from the highest amount of illnesses caused by the workplace. 45% of workers suffered from stress, depression or anxiety and 36% had a musculoskeletal disorder, the remaining 18% was accounted for by ‘other illness’. Looking at workplace injuries, the figure dropped to 1,780 where a slip, trip or fall was the most common accident at 27%. This is a surprise when an act of violence was ranked at 21%.

When it came to those working in agriculture (such as fishing and forestry), this was the sector with the most workplace injuries at 3,960. However, there was a mix of both fatal and non-fatal injuries. 23% of fatal injuries came from an individual being struck by a moving vehicle and the most common non-fatal injury stood at 20% which was either a slip, trip or fall. When it came to illnesses in this sector, 48% of these illnesses were musculoskeletal disorders.

The sector with the lowest amount of illnesses in the workplace was hospitality, with 2,060 per 100,000 workers. However, when we looked at the amount of workplace injuries and compared them to other industries, statistically it was significantly higher at 2,460.

The sector with the lowest amount of injuries in the workplace with only 520 was those working in communications. This was incredibly low in comparison to the amount of work-related illnesses in the same sector which stood at 2,130.

Evidently, injuries and illnesses can happen across all different sectors and some may experience more than others.

The impact of non-fatal injuries

From the same study carried out by the HSE, there were 175,000 non-fatal injuries in the workplace that were self-reported and led staff to having more than seven days off work. 434,000 of these injuries stayed off work for up to seven days.

38 per cent of the self-reports were made by female and 62 per cent were male. 70,116 of non-fatal injuries were reported by employers. The most common type of non-fatal accidents that occurred were slips, trips or falls on the same level (29%), lifting or handling objects (22%), struck by an object (10%), falling from a height (7%), acts of violence (7%), contact with machinery (4%) and struck against something in a stationary position (4%).

The impact of fatal injuries

Sectors including the construction, agriculture, manufacturing, transport and waste had various amount of fatal injuries.

Although sectors did play a massive part with determining the amount of fatal injuries, when it came to age it was found that those between 16-59 were most likely to suffer. Injuries were also common with those over the age of 60.

Events that led to the death of workers was most common with being struck by a moving vehicle, followed by falling from a height, then struck by a moving object, being trapped and then contact with moving machines or electricity flows.

The impact of workplace illnesses

In the UK, 1.3 million workers suffer from an illness caused or worsened by their place of employment – with 40% experiencing stress or depression. 31% suffer from musculoskeletal disorders and 21% fall under the ‘other type of illness category’ — figures from 2016/17.

The report suggested that between 2014/15 and 2016/17, the amount of illnesses was split equally between genders with 50% out of a high of 1.3 million workers.

But to understand the amount of illnesses that occur, it’s important to know how they happen. 13,000 deaths are caused each year due to exposure of chemicals or dust at work, which shows that there is a common problem in workplaces that needs to be addressed otherwise more people will experience harm.

Throughout the continent

Throughout Europe, Britain has one of the lowest amount of fatal injuries within the workplace with only 0.55 per 100,000 employees. Looking at other major countries across the continent, France stood at 3.4 and Germany at 0.81. European surveys that have been carried out revealed that most workers in Britain feel that their job does not put them in harm. However, a study carried out by the European Working Conditions Survey in 2015 said that 18% of British workers believed the opposite.

Britain is a more economically developed country and has a heightened demand from its citizens, is this because 92% of employers initiate health and safety assessments on a regular basis? This is considerably higher than the likes of Germany (66%) and France (56%).