A Breakdown of HSE’s Key Health & Safety Figures for Great Britain (2022/23)
14 December 2023 - Evotix
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has released the 2022/23 figures for occupational health and safety in the United Kingdom. These statistics offer a snapshot of the nation’s health and safety performance for the fiscal year and an evaluation of how it compares to historical data.
The organization’s metrics cover categories like work-related injuries and illnesses (non-fatal and fatal), musculoskeletal disorders, mental health challenges, lung disease and mesothelioma cases and deaths, working days lost and the annual costs of workplace injuries and illnesses.
In this post, we’ll delve into the key figures and explore their implications for organizations and people’s health and safety.
Work-Related Stress, Depression and Anxiety
In recent years, rates of work-related stress, anxiety and depression have been steadily climbing across the U.K. In response, EHS&S professionals have begun to place a greater emphasis on protecting the mental health and well-being of workers, but the HSE’s figures from 2022/23 demonstrate the need for continued work.
In 2022/23, 875,000 workers reported either new or persistent cases of work-related stress, depression or anxiety. Caused by psychosocial hazards such as intensified workloads, job insecurity, social and economic factors or a lack of mental health support, these challenges can lead to long-term mental health disorders, impaired cognitive abilities and fatigue among other detrimental effects.
For employers, increased rates of work-related mental health challenges lead to lost productivity, higher turnover and a negative influence on workplace culture and recruitment. As the HSE reports, 17.1 million working days were lost in 2022/23 due to mental health challenges.
Employers can address and mitigate these issues by providing flexible working options, offering robust mental health support and effectively managing workloads.
To learn more about how organizations can protect the mental health of employees, download our Mental Health and Well-Being Toolkit.
In 2022/23, musculoskeletal disorders affected a total of 473,000 workers across various industries. Encompassing issues affecting muscles, bones, joints and adjacent connective tissues, musculoskeletal disorders are commonly caused by poor ergonomics such as, repetitive movements, heavy lifting and awkward postures. Industries like administrative and support services, construction and human health/social work exhibit higher than average rates of musculoskeletal disorders.
Workers affected by musculoskeletal disorders can experience pain, discomfort, restricted mobility and diminished quality of life. For organizations, a high rate of musculoskeletal disorders among employees can cause increased absenteeism, decreased productivity and necessitate workplace disability adjustments.
To mitigate these risks, companies can proactively protect their workforce by conducting thorough risk assessments and offering comprehensive training that equips employees with the knowledge needed to perform their duties with minimal risk of musculoskeletal damage.
Mesothelioma and Asbestos Exposure
Experts predict a decline in mesothelioma deaths over the next decade, which can be attributed to stringent regulations, increased awareness and diminished occupational exposure to asbestos. Still, today, an estimated 12,000 deaths attributed to lung diseases are linked to past workplace exposures. The impact of past asbestos exposures is particularly pronounced, with 2,268 mesothelioma deaths recorded in 2021.
While the risk of asbestos exposure is lower than it used to be, it remains a substantial risk in various occupations, notably in construction, industrial work, farming, HVAC, boiler making and pipefitting.
Employers are responsible for protecting their workers from asbestos exposure by implementing crucial precautions. These can include conducting asbestos risk assessments, providing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and providing comprehensive training on asbestos exposure.
Injuries and Fatalities
Before the beginning of the pandemic, the rate of reported non-fatal injuries was falling steadily—a pattern that, encouragingly, has continued after the pandemic. Despite this progress, workplace injuries and fatalities still occur at an alarming rate.
In 2022/23, the HSE reported that 135 workers lost their lives and 561,000 workers suffered non-fatal injuries. Among these non-fatal injuries, 32% stem from slips, trips and falls, 17% from handling, lifting and carrying, 11% from being struck by a moving object, 8% from falls from heights and 8% from acts of violence.
While acknowledging the progress that has been made, it’s important for employers to continue working to improve health and safety management. This can mean investing in comprehensive training programs and hiring dedicated health and safety professionals to implement sophisticated safety management software systems. By adopting these measures, workplaces can build upon their achievements and contribute to the continual reduction of injuries and fatalities.
In 2022/23, the annual costs of workplace injuries and illnesses, including latency costs such as those associated with lung cancer, reached £20.7 billion. Within this total, £13.1 billion was attributed to ill health costs and £7.7 billion was attributed to workplace injuries.
The HSE assesses these costs by considering both financial and human factors. ‘Financial costs' encompass loss of output, healthcare expenses and other payments while 'human costs' represent the monetary value assigned to pain, grief, suffering and loss of life.
Mitigating this financial burden necessitates a commitment to improving health and safety management. Organizations need to adopt measures that not only protect individuals in the workplace but also alleviate the economic strain borne by individuals, businesses and society as a whole.
While the U.K. has made notable strides toward improving workplace safety, the HSE’s 2022/23 figures are a reminder of the journey ahead. Rising rates of work-related mental health challenges and the persistence of issues, musculoskeletal disorders and lung diseases caused by workplace exposures highlight the challenges that demand ongoing attention.
Although the overall trajectory indicates progress, the reality of 135 lives lost and 561,000 workers suffering non-fatal injuries in 2022/23 demonstrates the need for continued dedication. In the years ahead, we need to continue to foster a culture of safe operations and implement targeted measures to ensure sustained improvement in workplace health and safety.
Interested in learning some key strategies for improving occupational health and safety within your organization? Check out our blog: A Practical Guide to Data-Driven Occupational Health and Safety
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