HSE Statistics 22/23: Analysing the Landscape of Ill-Health and Injury in Great Britain

HSE Statistics 22/23: Analysing the Landscape of Ill-Health and Injury in Great Britain

Published January 25, 2024

3 minute read

The latest figures on workplace health and safety in Great Britain have been released, revealing 1.8 million workers suffering from work-related ill health.

Health and Safety at Work’, an annual publication by the HSE, provides the overall snapshot of safety developments across the nation. 

In many ways the statistics continue the trend of the 2021 – 2022 results, with stress, depression or anxiety the leading form of work-related ill health. The impact of the coronavirus pandemic is still being felt, with ‘rapidly changing work environments’ representing a significant disruption in reporting and the collecting of data. Sadly, 2022-2023 saw a rise in workplace deaths from the previous year. 

In this article we will take a closer look at 5 key takeaways that have emerged this year:

1) 1.8 million workers suffering from work-related ill-health

According to the HSE, the rate of total self-reported work-related illnesses was higher in 2022-2023 than in 2018-2019 (pre-coronavirus level). 

 The number of working days lost to work-related ill health stand at 31.5 million for the time period. The number of days lost due to non-fatal workplace injuries stands at 3.7 million. 

2) Stress, depression and anxiety continues to lead 

Work-related stress, depression or anxiety continues to be the leading cause of work-related ill-health in Great Britain, accounting for 49% of new and long-standing cases (875,000). This is currently at a higher rate that pre-coronavirus levels and is expected to continue to rise. 

Human health/ social work is the industry with most cases of work-related stress, depression or anxiety, followed by public admin/ defence and education. 

The HSEs Historical picture statistics in Great Britain, 2023’ suggests that ‘awareness of work-related stress and attitudes towards it changed in the 1990s’, which has had an effect on reporting levels.

In addition to the legal requirement that employers have to protect workers from stress through the use of risk assessments, its important that they understand what psychosocial risk factors are and how to mitigate them.  

Psychosocial risks can include: 

  • Workload/ work pace  
  • Organisational issues and structure  
  • Social isolation  
  • Lack of control over work  
  • Work that is machine or system paced

Read more on the topic: 3 Ways to Reduce Work-Related Ill Health in the Workplace

3) Musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) continue to plague workers

The HSE numbers indicate that 473,000 workers are suffering from a work-related musculoskeletal disorder, with back issues (41%) and upper limbs or neck (41%) listed as the most affected areas. 

The industries with the highest instances of work-related MSDs are also of interest, with admin and support service activities leading closely followed by construction. Construction is perhaps not surprising, with manual handling risks being widely associated with the industry. The prevalence of MSDs in admin and support service roles gives a look into the world of less obvious physical risks.  

Sitting for long periods of time, repetitive work, prolonged use of display screen equipment and unsuitable furniture can all contribute to MSDs in these roles.  

Employers need to be aware of the regulations covering all forms of physical work, including:

4) Agriculture, forestry and fishing leads in workplace non-fatal injuries 

The HSE records 561,000 workers sustaining non-fatal injuries (self reported). The number for non-fatal injuries reported by employers via RIDDOR is lower at 60,645. The incidence of non-fatal injuries to workers appears to be on a downward trend, in line with pre-coronavirus levels. 

The HSE records Slips, trips or falls as the most common kind of accident across all industries, accounting for 32%.  

According to the HSEs ‘Agriculture, forestry and fishing statistics in Great Britain, 2023’, around 3.7% of workers in this sector sustained non-fatal workplace injuries, a much higher rate than for workers across all industries (1.5%). Slips, trips and falls accounted for the most common type of injury in this sector, reflecting wider trends. 

Download our free poster on Slips, Trips and Falls  

Tragically the number of workers killed in work-related accidents is up on the previous years, with 135 in 2022/23 and 123 in 2021/22. However, it is important to note that there has been a downward trend in the number of work-related fatalities over the long term. 

5) Calculating the economic cost 

While the human cost of work-related ill health and injury (fatal and non-fatal) takes obvious precedence, the HSE statistics also provide a breakdown of the economic cost: 

  • £20.7 billion – The annual cost of workplace injury and new cases of work-related ill health (2021/22)* 
  • £13.1 billion - Annual costs of new cases of work-related ill health (2021/22)* 
  • £7.7 billion - Annual costs of workplace injury (2021/22) 

*Note that this excludes ‘long latency’ illnesses such as cancer. 

Reflecting the data that we have seen earlier, work-related ill health accounts for 63% of the overall costs to Britain. 

The HSE also provides a breakdown of cost bearers, which is as follows:

  • £12.2 billion – Individuals 
  • £4.6 billion – Employers 
  • £3.9 billion – Government 

Conclusion – where do you go from here? 

This blog post only skims the surface of these statistics, and it is recommended that EHS professionals and employers take an in depth look at the report and other documentation that expands on the data (some of which has been linked above). 

If you are looking for a place to start, why not join us for our deep dive webinar into the HSE’s 2022-23 statistics. If you are looking for expert insight into the issues behind the numbers, click the link below and register today. 

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Author Laura Fitzgerald

Laura Fitzgerald is a Content Marketing Manager with EcoOnline. She has been writing about health and safety topics since 2017, with a focus on the areas of improving employee safety engagement and EHS legislation.

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