The most dangerous working environments by accident statistics

Whilst certain legislation firmly exists to both protect workers and help create safe working environments across a wide range of industries, it perhaps goes without saying that some industries are simply much more hazardous than others.


All employees (regardless of industry type) should be able to work safe in the knowledge that their employer takes their health and safety requirements with the level of seriousness it deserves – and moreover, that whatever steps are necessary are always taken to ensure there are as few injuries as possible.


In this article, we take a look at the most dangerous working environments through the use of the latest accident statistics to discover which industries are exposed to the most risk in terms of health and safety.


Fatal injuries


According to figures published by the Government, 137 workers were killed at work during the years 2016/17, together with an additional 92 members of the public.


Statistics show that these figures were made up of the following industry types:


Type of industryNumber of fatalities
Other *33
Transport and Storage14


Of these, the vast majority of workers who were killed at work (98) were aged between 16 and 59 and the main reason was being struck by a moving vehicle (31),  followed by falling from height (25).


*Cases defined as “other” included communication, business services and finance, public administration (education, human health and social work activities), mining/quarrying and electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning.


Based on absolute count, both construction and agriculture tend to come out worst as they account for the greatest number of fatalities each year.


In more positive news, the number of fatalities recorded for the construction industry during 2016/17 is actually the lowest number on record for this particular sector. Over the past five years the number of fatalities has in fact reduced.


In 2015/16 there were some 47 fatalities, but the annual average for the past five years currently stands at 39.

Whilst these figures show waste as being the less affected sector comparable to the others, the number of fatal injuries in waste and recycling during this period is almost double the annual average for the past five years, including during 2015/16 where there were only 6 deaths recorded.


Whilst fatal numbers for the sector have fluctuated in recent years, this particular increase is largely explained by a single incident which sadly resulted in some five deaths.


Non-fatal injuries


During 2016/17 there were 609,000 self-reported non-fatal injuries to workers across the UK and a further 70,116 non-fatal injuries reported by employers through the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (‘RIDDOR’).


Of these, Government statistics reveal the following information:


All work-related illness rate (per 100,000 workers)Industry typeAll workplace injury rate (per 100,000 workers)
4,500Human health/social work11,780
4,350Agriculture, forestry and fishing3,960
4,000Public administration/defence2,320




As can be seen from the above figures then, it’s perhaps interesting to note that “human health/social work” ranks high among both fatal and non-fatal injuries.


According to data issued by the Health and Safety Executive, stress, depression and/or anxiety affect some 45% of social workers. This could be the result of being required to work in highly charged situations, on their own and therefore, are potentially exposed to more dangerous situations.


By using the information shown above, here are a further ‘top five’ most dangerous working environments:


  1. Construction


Given that construction very often necessitates working from high buildings, in adverse weather conditions and under strict time restraints (particularly on building sites), it’s perhaps little wonder there are so many accidents; ranging from minor injuries right through to fatalities.


In 2017 a construction company was fined £400,000 after one of their employees fell from a considerable height whilst installing plywood boards on the third floor of a building, subsequently falling 3.95m to the floor below. As a result of the company’s failure to comply with basic health and safety regulations, their worker suffered multiple fractures in his pelvis and has since been unable to work due to physical incapacity.


During the hearing at Westminster Magistrates Court, the employer pleaded guilty to having breached s.4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and in addition to the fine was ordered to pay costs of £1,534.00.


Fortunately, in this particular case, there was no fatality involved although it was certainly acknowledged by the Court that this was merely through luck and nothing more.


  1. Agriculture


As is recognised by the HSE, farming is also an extremely hazardous industry – particularly given that both farmers and farm workers work alongside potentially dangerous machinery, vehicles, chemicals and livestock. What’s more, they’re required to work long hours and often in adverse weather conditions which often presents its own set of hazards.


  1. Manufacturing


According to figures released by the Labour Force Survey, in addition to the 19 fatalities caused to manufacturing workers during 2016/17, there were a further 80,000 workers who suffered from a work-related illness together with 60,000 non-fatal injuries sustained as a result of working within this particular environment.


  1. Transport and Storage


Perhaps not surprisingly, the majority of accidents within the transport and storage industry occur when workers are struck by a moving vehicle. Workers within this category also tend to suffer more from muscular problems which is commonly attributed to the amount of heavy lifting involved; particularly with regard to parcel deliveries and the manoeuvring of pallets.


  1. Waste


Unfortunately, whilst the waste management sector remains one of the most important within the employment sector, it still poses considerable risks for its workers. According to Government research, these are primarily caused by manual handling, exposure to chemical substances and mechanical hazards.




By investigating those statistics released by sources such as the HSE, it’s relatively easy to identify those working environments most affected by accident statistics and moreover, the specific nature of them.


Fortunately, through continued support from organisations, such as the HSE and Trades Union Congress, the Government remain committed to driving these statistics quite firmly down and what’s more, combined with co-operation from both employer and employee, these figures should continue to improve in the months and years going forward.


In the meantime, for those employed within any of the most dangerous working environments identified above, it’s certainly advisable to stay updated with both updated safety guidance and legislative changes to ensure that safety is never compromised to the detriment of others.

For more information on making an injury at work claim, click on the link and we’ll help get you started.