Everyone deserves to be protected from harm while at work, but fatal accidents can, and do happen.

Some employers knowingly breach health and safety law, putting their employees at risk. Sometimes systems and processes, designed to keep workers safe, fail.

The majority of workplace accidents reported in the UK aren’t fatal. But even a small number of fatal accidents at work is too high. Statistics recorded by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show that fatal workplace accident statistics have trended upwards in recent years:

  • 147 workers were killed in 2018/2019
  • 141 lost their lives in 2017/2018
  • 135 suffered fatalities in 2016/2017

How many accidents at work are fatal?

According the HSE, 147 workers were killed as a result of work-related injuries in 2018/19.

Our analysis of the figures show that certain sectors continue to show a higher risk of workplace fatalities than others. Of the 147 people killed or fatally injured at work in 2018/19:

  • 32 worked in agriculture, forestry or fishing
  • 30 were employed in the construction industry
  • 26 were employed in manufacturing; and
  • 18 had roles in wholesale, retail, motor repair, accommodation or food.

What are the main causes of fatal accidents at work?

Fatal accidents in the workplace take many forms, but there are certain patterns of incidents which more commonly result in death. Fatal accidents at work statistics from HSE reveal that in 2018/19 some of the most common causes of workplace fatality involved:

  • Falls from height (40)
  • Being struck by a vehicle (30)
  • Being struck by an object (16)
  • Moving machinery (14)
  • Being trapped or pinned when something collapsed or overturned (11).

Who is to blame for a fatal accident in the workplace?

Fatal work accidents are usually someone other than the deceased’s fault – the employer may not have taken adequate steps to protect the workforce or may have failed to provide a safe workplace. All employers have a duty to:

  • Complete suitable risk assessments
  • Give employees health and safety training on all equipment
  • Provide a safe place to work for all employees.

Unfortunately, not all employers take this duty of care seriously. And in recent years, it has become unpopular in certain sectors to enforce good health and safety – it has become ‘fashionable’ and has become a bit of a joke to criticise ‘elf and safety’ as ‘too much red tape’.

Diminished health and safety standards cost lives, as the stark HSE figures show. It also costs billions to the UK economy in lost working days, reduced productivity and production and, of course, damages pay-outs from employers to the loved ones of workers they put at risk.

Even if the fatal work accident was a result of another worker’s wrongdoing, ultimately the employer remains responsible; in law they have what is known as ‘vicarious liability’ which means the employer has a responsibility for the behaviour of all those who are in the workplace.

Claiming for fatal work accidents

Losing a loved one in a fatal workplace accident is devastating. In addition to trying to cope with significant personal loss and grief, you may also have financial concerns for your family to contend with. Working with a specialist law firm, and a solicitor who is there to represent your interests, can help.

Your solicitor can manage dialogue with your loved one’s employer, and build a case for compensation to help allay some of the financial hardships you may be facing as a result of your loss. In addition to launching a civil claim for compensation, our solicitors can also provide support at inquest, or other court hearings relating to the incident, meaning you have a friendly face and an expert hand to guide your family through a process you hoped you would never find yourself in.

Our specialist workplace accident lawyers represent hundreds of families each year in fatal workplace accident claims and can support you too. We also have close relationships with most major UK trade unions, working with them to bring negligent employers to light and drive up safety standards in workplaces across the UK.

To find out more about claiming for a fatal workplace accident, please click below.