Construction Sees Most Fatal Accidents at Work

The construction sector saw the highest overall number of fatal workplace accidents reported in 2020/21.

This is according to the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) latest statistics.

A total of 39 construction workers lost their lives at work in the last year. This was a fall of three from the previous year.

The last year saw 142 workers in all industries killed in accidents at work. It was a rise of 29 from the previous year, despite the coronavirus pandemic causing a number of sectors to shut down temporarily.

Agriculture, forestry and fishing saw the second highest number of fatal accidents, at 34. This was an increase of 13 from the previous year.

Manufacturing was third, reporting 20 fatal injuries to workers – seven higher than the previous year.

Agriculture sees highest fatality rate

Construction saw the highest overall number of fatal injuries at work. But the industry with the highest fatal injury rate – which takes into account the number of deaths per 100,000 workers – was agriculture, forestry and fishing.

This sector saw a fatal injury rate of 11.37 workers per 100,000. Waste and recycling reported the second highest fatal injury rate in the last year. The sector’s rate was 2.57 per 100,000 workers.

Construction saw the third highest fatal injury rate – 1.84 per 100,000 workers.

Across all industries, the HSE reported that the fatality rate stood at 0.43 per 100,000.

Worst accident types

Almost three-quarters (74%) of fatal workplace injuries were caused by five types of accidents in the last year. These were:

  • Falling from a height – 35 people killed
  • Struck by a moving vehicle – 25 people killed
  • Struck by moving object – 17 people killed
  • Trapped by something overturning or collapsing – 14 people killed
  • Coming into contact with moving machinery – 14 people killed

In total, falling from a height was responsible for 25% of all fatal injuries at work in the last year.

Workers most at risk

In 2020/21, the highest proportion of fatal work accidents happened to men. Continuing the trend from previous years, male workers accounted for 97% of all deaths at work – 138 men altogether.

Accidents causing death also continued to disproportionately affect older workers. Similar to what has been seen in previous years, about 30% of fatal workplace injuries happened to people aged 60 and over. But these workers make up just 11% of the workforce.

Workers aged 65 and over saw the highest rate of fatal injury, at 1.72 per 100,000 workers, while those aged 60-64 saw a rate of 0.91. In comparison, workers aged 25-34 saw a fatal accident rate of 0.25 per 100,000.


England saw the highest overall number of fatal workplace injuries – 116. But Scotland and Wales had higher fatality rates in the last year.

England saw a fatal injury rate of 0.41 per 100,000 workers, while the rate stood at 0.63 in both Scotland and Wales. The HSE reported that this is because England has a higher “proportion of people working in lower risk jobs than in Scotland and Wales”.

The English region that saw the most fatal injuries was the South West, where 23 people were killed at work. Yorkshire and the Humber was second – 18 workers lost their lives there. The North West saw the third highest number of fatal accidents at work, with 16 people dying.

Safety as a priority

The HSE’s chief executive Sarah Albon said: “Whilst the working world in which we now live has created new health challenges for workers and for those who have a duty towards them, safety must also remain a priority.

“Whilst the picture has improved considerably over the longer term and Great Britain is one of the safest places to work in the world, every loss of life is a tragedy. We are committed to ensuring that workplaces are as safe as they can be and that employers are held to account and take their obligations seriously.”

If your employer has not taken its obligation to keep you safe and healthy as seriously as it should and you’ve been injured on the job, First4Lawyers could help.

To find out how we could help you make an accident at work claim, get in touch. Just give us a call or start your claim online.


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