What is the deadliest UK industry to work in?

  • First4Lawyers study analyses decade of workplace death data and reveals the construction industry to be the deadliest
  • 382 people have died while at work in construction in the last 10 years
  • 1267 people have died while at work in the UK since 2008
  • Average age for workplace deaths is 48
  • Forget Friday 13th - Tuesday 9th has killed the most amount of people at work across Britain since 2008
  • Scotland is the unluckiest region

A study using a decade’s worth of workplace death data reveals the construction industry to be the deadliest, killing 382 people. Experts at First4Lawyers have analysed open data from the Health and Safety Executive, which looks at how many deaths have occurred in the workplace in the last 10 years.

Construction is Britain's deadliest industry

Of a total of 1,267 people who have died at work since 2008, 382 were construction industry workers

The average age for workplace deaths in construction is just 48 years old.

Working in service and agricultural industries is also pretty risky, accounting for 287 and 269 deaths respectively since 2008.

When looking at the average salary for working in the deadliest industries, construction comes out with an average salary of £36,702. The data was taken from an analysis of over 1 million job ads by Adzuna, and reveals that they get paid 35% above the average UK salary of £27,271, suggesting that perhaps it’s worth taking a risk for the extra danger money.

However, if you were to work as a farm worker in the third deadliest industry of agriculture, the lower salary of £19,390 may not be worth the risk for some.

Average salary of each industry

  • Agriculture: £31,857
    Farm Manager: £35,113
    Farm Worker: £19,390
    Agricultural Technician: £25,374
  • Construction: £36,702
    Building Site Manager: £42,041
    Builder: £34,491
    Scaffolder: £37,716
    Brick Layer: £29,209
  • Extractive industries: £40,162
    Utilities: £37,678
    Oil and Gas Engineer: £30,584
    Electrician: £34,439
    Powerplant Engineer: £35,500
  • Manufacturing: £31,832
    Manufacturing Engineer: £34,573
    Machine Operator: £21,751
    Warehouse Operative: £17,567
  • Services: £30,597
    Police Officer: £31,000 (Payscale)
    Fireman: £32,447 (Payscale)
    Soldier: £28,346 (Adzuna)
  • Water/Waste Management: £29,185
    Waste Operative: £26,176
    Waste Management: £30,924
    Recycling Operative: £19,863

(Figures according to Adzuna on 28/09/2017 at 3pm, except Police Officer and Fireman which are from Payscale)

2011 saw the most deaths in construction (52 people), however since then we have seen a slight decrease due to health and safety regulation improvements.

In 2016, 33 people died as a result of a workplace accident in the construction industry and 12 people have died so far in 2017.

Scotland has highest workplace death rate

Deadliest regions to work in the UK

When breaking the data down by region, 176 deaths occurred in Scotland, which is the highest across Britain.

35% of workplace deaths in Scotland occurred in the agricultural industry, with 61 people losing their lives at work in the last 10 years.  This makes agriculture the deadliest sector to work in for the Scots.

When you consider that the average salary for a farm worker (£19,390) is 41% below the average UK salary, some may not think it worth the extra risk. However, farm managers can earn on average £31,000 in the UK, while an agricultural technician can command £25,274.

Tuesday 9th is unluckier than Friday 13th

Friday the 13th is widely considered the unluckiest day of the year in Western superstition. Scientifically known as paraskavedekatriaphobia, 21 million people suffer from a fear of Friday 13th, costing businesses up to £585m, from shunned air travel to people not going into work.

However, data reveals that actually Tuesday 9th is a day to worry about! 

A total of 20 people have died on Tuesday 9th while at work, which is more than triple the figures for Friday 13th. In fact, just six people have died in the workplace on Friday 13th making it far less unlucky than many believe.


Andrew Cullwick, spokesperson for First4Lawyers, said: “Although we have seen a slight decrease in workplace deaths across all industries, we expected to see a lot less. It’s quite shocking to see that still to this day workplace accidents are turning into deaths, and construction remains the most dangerous industry, despite so many health and safety regulations being introduced.

"With working practices constantly being improved, there is no excuse for companies not obeying the law and fulfilling their business obligations.”


  • Number of workplace deaths each year, 2008-17
    2008:  126
    2009:  137
    2010:  138
    2011:  174
    2012:  135
    2013:  135
    2014:  120
    2015:  127
    2016:  121
    2017:  54
    Total: 1,267

  • Number of workplace deaths by industry
    Agriculture:   269
    Construction: 382
    Extractive/Utilities:  52
    Manufacturing:  214
    Service:  287
    Water/Waste Management:  63
    Total: 1,267
  • Average age of workplace deaths  (per industry)
    Agriculture:  55
    Construction:  45
    Extractive/Utilities:  49
    Manufacturing:  46
    Service:  47
    Water/Waste Management:  43
    Total:  48

  • Deadliest month
    January:    102
    February:  108
    March:        89
    April:        108
    May:          97
    June:        128
    July:         120
    August:     112
    Sept:        107
    October:   112
    Nov:         103
    Dec:           81
    Total:    1,267
  • Workplace deaths by region
    East Anglia:  112
    East Midlands:  117
    London:  91
    North East:  39
    North West:  162
    Scotland:  176
    South East:  131
    South West:  115
    Wales:  76
    West Midlands:  106
    Yorkshire & The Humber:  134
    Total:  1,267


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