1.2 Million Working People Suffer From a Work-Related Illness, Latest Health and Safety Statistics Reveal

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Posted on 29 Oct 2014

The Health and Safety Statistics, Annual Report for Great Britain 2013/14, published by the Health and safety Executive (HSE), reveals that during 2012/13 1.2 million workers were suffering from an illness they believed was caused or made worse by their current or past work. 

In addition, 2,535 people died in 2012 from mesothelioma (a cancer of the lung lining) caused by past exposure to asbestos. Thousands of others died from other occupational cancers and diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Other findings of the Report include:


133 workers were killed at work, a rate of 0.44 fatalities per 100,000 workers. Of the main industrial sectors, construction, agriculture, and waste and recycling have the highest rates.

77,593 other injuries to employees were reported under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR), a rate of 304.6 per 100,000 employees.

Working days lost

28.2 million days were lost due to work-related ill health or injury (16 days per case) - 23.5 million days due to work-related ill health and 4.7 million days due to workplace injury.


There was an overall rise in the number of enforcement notices issued in 2013/14 compared to 2012/13. 13,790 enforcement notices were issued by all enforcing authorities, an increase of 2% from the previous year. 

551 cases were prosecuted by HSE in England and Wales (leading to 517 convictions), 88 by local authorities in England and Wales (leading to 85 convictions) and 35 by the Procurator Fiscal in Scotland (leading to 34 convictions).

Economic costs to Britain

Injuries and new cases of ill health resulting largely from current working conditions cost society an estimated £14.2 billion in 2012/13 (based on 2012 prices). Over half of this total cost fell on individuals. whilst the remainder was shared between employers and Government.

New cases of workplace illness account for around £8.6 billion of the total cost; workplace injury (including fatalities) account for around £5.6 billion.

Fatal diseases

Around 13, 000 deaths each year from occupational lung disease and cancer are estimated to have been caused by past exposure, primarily to chemicals and dust at work.

The next four biggest categories of occupational cancer were lung cancer due to silica, diesel engine exhaust and mineral oils and breast cancer due to shift work.

Reports of ill health by doctors and specialist physicians

Since 2005, a surveillance scheme has collected reports of new cases of work-related ill health from a sample of around 250 general practitioners. In 2013, musculoskeletal disorders were the most common type of work-related illness and mental ill health gave rise to most working days lost.

Other surveillance schemes which collect reports from specialist physicians on specific types of work-related ill health revealed that in 2013:

  • there were an estimated 1,268 new cases of skin disease reported by dermatologists, of which three quarters were suffering from contact dermatitis. Hairdressers/barbers and florists are the occupations with the highest rates of contact dermatitis; and
  • there were 177 new cases of asthma reported to chest physicians. Vehicle spray painters and bakers are the occupations with the highest rates of asthma.

Health and Safety Statistics, Annual Report for Great Britain 2013/14  

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