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The statistics around industrial injuries & disease



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Key Statistics

If you’ve been unfortunate enough to experience an industrial injury or disease, then it’s likely you’ll be wondering how common these are … and you might well be surprised. In fact, here are a few facts and figures taken from the latest Health and Safety Executive statistics about what goes on in the workplace… [source]


When it comes to industrial injuries and disease here are the key figures produced by the HSE:

  • 3 million of working people were suffering from work-related ill health (new or long-standing) during 2016/17. Of these, 40% were attributed to stress, depression or anxiety, 39%} were attributed to musculoskeletal disorders and 21% were classed as being ‘other types of illness’. In terms of gender, the figures were split 50/50.
  • There were 2,595 mesothelioma deaths due to past asbestos exposures (during 2016)
  • 144 workers were killed at work during the 2017/18 period
  • 609,000 injuries occurred at work (according to the Labour Force Survey)
  • 70,116 injuries were reported under RIDDOR (“Reporting Of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations”)
  • 2 million days were lost due to work-related illness and workplace injury
  • 9 billion estimated costs of injuries and ill health were reported arising directly from current working conditions (during 2015/2016)


Suffice it to say, if you’ve suffered an industrial injury or disease at work, then you’re certainly not on your own and the team at Smith Jones Solicitors are here to help you every step of the way.



What Types of Diseases Arise and How Common Are They?

For those looking to claim Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit, there are now over 70 recognised conditions which include the following:


Occupational lung disease

On the figures produced by the HSE, 12,000 lung disease deaths each year are estimated to be linked to past exposures at work. However, because lung diseases typically have a long latency, statistics can only be based on past working conditions and consideration must also be given to self-reported breathing or lung problems. Last year, for example, there were 18,000 estimated cases of self-reported incidents and of these, some led to fatalities.


Work-related asthma

Also referred to as ‘occupational asthma’, work-related asthma can either be caused by certain working conditions or can exaggerate an existing or underlying problem. According to the statistics released by HSE, there are between 200 and 300 new cases of occupational asthma referred to chest physicians each and every year, (although there have been no significant increases or decreases in this referral rate over the past 10 years). Interestingly enough, the most commonly cited causes of occupational asthma continues to be either isocyanate and then, either flour or grain; although newer referrals also suggest that vehicle paint technicians are at high risk too.


Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

Often referred to by the medical profession as ‘COPD’, this particular type of disease is both serious and long-term in nature and is certainly common among regular smokers. During 2016/17 there were 4,000 estimated COPD deaths each year where occupational exposures were considered to be a major contributory factor (including welding fumes, isocyanates and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons).


Silicosis and coal workers pneumoconiosis

Whilst new cases assessed for the Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit have reduced quite significantly over the past 10 years, there still remain between 20 and 50 new cases of silicosis per year and up to 300 new referrals of coal workers’ pneumoconiosis. That said, annual deaths from pneumoconiosis have remained fairly consistent over the past 10 years, with around 140 deaths per annum.



It’s certainly no great secret that inhalation of asbestos can cause cancers such as mesothelioma and lung cancer. There were 2,595 mesothelioma deaths during 2016 (with a similar number of deaths due to asbestos-related lung cancer).

Asbestos was also the main cause of cancer deaths during 2005 and there remain around 8,000 reported deaths each year.


Noise-induced hearing loss

During 2016, there were 90 new claims for work-related deafness and the vast majority of claimants were male (with just 10 of the 1,505 claims made between 2007 to 2017 being from females).


Musculoskeletal disorders

A massive number of 507,000 workers suffered from some type of work-related musculoskeletal disorder (either new or long-standing) during the period 2016/17, with some 8.9 million working days having been lost to this particular condition during the same reporting period. Of these, the vast majority of claimants worked within the construction industry, closely followed by agriculture, forestry and fishing.


Work-related skin disease

During 2016 there were 932 estimated new cases of occupational contact dermatitis and approximately 6,000 new cases of self-reported, work-related skin problems. Most of these cases were attributable to skin having been exposed to allergens or irritants, with florists, hairdressers, beauticians and cooks being the most at risk industry types.


Hand-arm vibration

Made up of two separate conditions, there were 244 new claims for vibration white finger during 2016 and 240 for carpal tunnel syndrome. Again, the vast majority of claimants during the reporting period were male.



With so many industrial injuries and diseases, it’s imperative that you seek the right advice if you feel you’ve been affected by one (or both) of these as a result of your work activities.

The team at Smith Jones Solicitors are highly experienced in all types of industrial injuries so why not give us a call on Freephone 0800 195 95 90 to make sure you’ve got the very best legal team in your corner. We look forward to working with you.

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