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Eye watering work-Related ill Health Statistics

By Victoria Brown

By Victoria Brown

Victoria takes an in depth look at work-related illness following the publication of the work-related health and safety in Great Britain.

The recent publication of the work-related health and safety in Great Britain was certainly an interesting read. The annual figures for 2021/22 include the following;

1.8 million working people suffering from a work-related illness, of which

  • 914,000 workers suffering from work-related stress, depression, or anxiety
  • 477,000 workers suffering from a work-related musculoskeletal disorder
  • 123,000 workers suffering from COVID-19 which they believe may have been from exposure to coronavirus at work
  • 2,544 mesothelioma deaths due to past asbestos exposures (2020)
  • 123 workers killed in work-related accidents
  • 565,000 working people sustained an injury at work according to the Labour Force Survey
  • 61,713 injuries to employees reported under RIDDOR
  • 36.8 million working days lost due to work-related illness and workplace injury
  • £18.8 billion estimated cost of injuries and ill health from current working conditions (2019/20)

Latest figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show a 28% increase in worker injuries year on year – and a steep increase in ill health compared to pre-pandemic levels.

At a headline level, 1.8 million workers suffered from work-related ill health (new or longstanding) in 2021/22, up 5.8% from last year. This reveals a worrying trend around mental health, although new cases are down, from 850,000 to 722,000.  Is this a good sign….or are employees not reporting their true reason for illness? The number of new ill-health cases has almost doubled compared to pre-pandemic times, from 497,000 to 722,000. Total cases have also risen from 1.4 million to 1.8 million – an increase of 29%. Stress, depression, and anxiety remain the leading cause of work-related ill health, accounting for 51% of all ill-health cases.

On a positive note, I have found that many of my clients and HR/H&S leaders are putting Mental Wellbeing as a priority.  Since we launched our Mental Wellbeing First Aid training course, I have been overwhelmed by the amount of business leaders signing up or sending their people on this course, as they want to understand and make a difference within their business.  There is a strong indication that this will one day become a mandatory requirement for all businesses, so those that embrace Mental wellbeing now are getting ahead of the curve.

Equally concerning is the fact that 565,000 workers sustained a non-fatal injury in 2021/22 according to self-reports – representing a year-on-year increase of 28%. Injuries reported by employers under RIDDOR have also increased, from 51,211 to 61,713. This may be due to people returning back to work after the pandemic, but equally from my personal experience, I don’t think many Organisations are taking their H&S seriously enough.  We provide both HR and H&S support and the amount of prospects that I speak to that disregard their H&S needs and just ‘wing it’, but want to talk about their HR needs.  I find it quite a strange trend, as yes if you don’t adhere to employment law, you may very well end up in an Employment Tribunal that will come with some financial penalty.  If you ignore your H&S and are found to be negligent you could be fined and end up behind bars…..scary thought.

Additionally, highlighting the devastating consequences of poor health and safety practices, the report confirms that 123 workers were killed at work during this period, validating provisional data from its fatal injuries report released earlier this year.

Echoing previous years, musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) were the second most common cause of ill health, making up 27% of all cases. That said, in terms of actual figures, the number of MSD cases has remained broadly flat, increasing marginally from 470,000 to 477,000.  It will be interesting to see how this figure changes over the next couple of years due to hybrid working, again a massive area of exposure for Organisations, that do not provide the right equipment for their people and ensure DSE assessments/manual handling training etc is in place.  We have far less control over the safety of our people in their own homes, so we need to educate and assess any risks.

Here at High Performance Consultancy, we have a team of Health and Safety Consultants that can assist and advise you on your company’s Health and Safety requirements.  Please get in touch with us on 03301071037 or

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