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Fatal occupational injuries

Clinical bottom line

The overall rate of fatality at work in the UK is about 1 in 125,000, though the risk in agriculture is 10 times greater. Occupational fatality risk varies widely between different EU countries.

Fatal injuries at work

It is fairly obvious that some jobs are fundamentally more dangerous than others. Getting a perspective and putting numbers to the risk is something that governments have been doing for some time. The UK Health and Safety executive seemed a useful place to try and get some perspective on all this.

The number of workers fatally injured in the UK in 2006/7 was 241, a rate of 0.8per 100,000 workers, or 1 in 125,000. There has been a long term downward trend, though the tendency of about half of the fatalities to come from agriculture and construction continues. The most common cause of fatality is falling from height (1 in 5 of all fatalities), which will explain to some of us why the rules on working at height have become so much more stringent in recent years.

Figure 1 shows the rates of fatality for different occupations - highest in agriculture at 1 in 12,300, then construction (1 in 27,000), manufacturing (1 in 91,000), and lowest in services (1 in 290,000). Rates for self-employed people are double those for employees.

Figure 1: risk of dying in any one year by occupation - UK figures 2006/7

Different occupational fatality rates occur across the EU, with lowest rates in the UK, Denmark, and Sweden, and the highest rates of double the EU average in Portugal and Austria. The figures do not include recent additions to the EU.


Statistics of fatal injuries 2006/7. National Statistics, UK.