Exploring the UK Construction Industry Accident Frequency Rate

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Exploring the UK Construction Industry Accident Frequency Rate

Despite the UK construction industry's substantial contribution to the economy, it also remains one of the sectors most associated with high risks of workplace accidents. The latest Health and Safety Executive figures show that construction industry employers still have a long way to go to improve the safety performance of their organisations and occupational health standards among their workers.

In the following blog post, the construction accident claims solicitors at JMW assess the available information and discuss how these insights highlight how construction employers must improve safety measures.

What We Know About Accident Frequency in Construction

Available data from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and other sources offer significant insights. Construction remains one of the higher-risk industries, with injuries from falls, machinery, and on-site accidents being the most common. These incidents not only highlight the physical risks associated with construction work but also underscore the economic impact, with millions lost in productivity and compensation claims each year.

The analysis of construction accidents reveals specific patterns and key areas of concern:

Fatal Injuries

In the UK construction industry, the risk of fatal injuries remains a significant concern. Recent statistics show that in 2022/23, there were 45 fatal injuries recorded within this sector. A deeper dive into these figures reveals that falls from heights are the most common cause, accounting for 27% of all fatal injuries annually. Specifically, falls from heights in construction contribute to an average of 19 deaths per year, representing 54% of all fatalities due to falls across all industries.

In 2021, the construction industry recorded 30 fatalities, indicating a clear increase, again marked by falls from height beingt he most frequent cause. This recurring risk factor points to a critical need for enhanced safety measures and protocols around working at height. 

Non-Fatal Injuries

While fatal injuries highlight extreme risks, non-fatal injuries provide insight into more frequent hazards.  The data for 2020/2021 indicates that non-fatal injuries were predominantly due to slips, trips and falls on the same level, which necessitated improved on-site hazard management and worker training to address these preventable accidents effectively. 

In the most recent data from 2022/23, falls from height were recorded as the most common type of non-fatal incident, accounting for 8% of such injuries. Although less severe than fatal falls, these incidents significantly impact worker health, safety and productivity. The construction industry’s non-fatal injury rate of 2,640 per 100,000 workers is substantial, though it is less than some other high-risk industries like agriculture, forestry and fishing.

While we cannot know if measures were taken to specifically mitigate slips, trips and falls, we can know that these accidents are still happening, along with others caused by other risks, and work still needs to be done.

Responsibility for Construction Worker Safety

In the UK, the responsibility for ensuring the safety of construction workers is legally mandated and shared among several parties. Employers are primarily responsible for providing a safe work environment, which includes implementing adequate safety measures, providing necessary training, and ensuring that safety equipment is available and used. Site managers have the duty to enforce safety protocols and conduct regular site inspections to identify and mitigate risks. Workers also have a role to play by following established safety procedures, using personal protective equipment properly, and reporting unsafe conditions.

Employers are primarily responsible for providing a safe and healthy workplace. This includes ensuring that all safety measures are in place, risks are adequately assessed and managed, and workers are trained to handle their tasks safely. Compliance with Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guidelines must be seen as mandatory.

While employers hold the central responsibility, safety in the construction sector is a collective effort:

  • Employers must ensure that all safety protocols are followed, and that the work environment is as risk-free as possible.
  • Site managers play a crucial role in implementing safety measures on the ground. They are responsible for day-to-day safety management, including monitoring work conditions and worker compliance with safety practices.
  • Workers are also responsible for adhering to safety protocols and using their training to avoid accidents. They should actively participate in safety training sessions and promptly report any unsafe conditions.

This shared responsibility model is vital for maintaining safety standards and reducing accident frequency in the construction industry.

Steps Your Employer Should Take to Reduce Accident Frequency

To reduce the frequency of accidents in the construction industry, employers must take a number 

  • Risk assessment and management: conduct thorough risk assessments to identify potential hazards. Regularly review and update risk management plans to adapt to new hazards. Engage workers in safety discussions and audits. Continuously update training programs to address new risks.
  • Adoption of innovative technologies: implement wearable safety devices for real-time hazard alerts. Utilise automated machinery to reduce human error. Use drones for site inspections to identify potential risks.
  • Comprehensive training programs: develop training programs that emphasise safety best practices. Include proper equipment use and emergency procedures. Empower workers to recognise and manage risks effectively.
  • Adherence to HSE guidelines: ensure compliance with Health, Safety, and Environment (HSE) guidelines. Regularly monitor and enforce adherence to these guidelines. Educate all staff on HSE standards and their importance in reducing accidents.

What to Do If You Have an Injury On a Construction Site

If you are a worker and are injured on-site, there are several immediate steps you should take:

  1. Seek medical help: your health should be your top priority. Even if you believe your injury was minor, or you had an accident and feel fine, you should seek first aid and speak to a medical professional. The true symptoms of some injuries do not manifest straight away, but can be severe if left untreated.
  2. Report the accident: by law, every workplace must have an accident logbook. Here, you should report the accident and outline the hazard that caused it. This creates a tangible record of the incident, which will help you to prove it occurred if you decide to make a claim for compensation later.
  3. Seek advice from a solicitor: if your employer has failed in their duty to keep you safe at work, you should speak to a solicitor. The team at JMW can help you to understand your circumstances and options, and guide you through the process of making a compensation claim should you choose to seek financial recourse.

For more advice on what to do following a workplace accident, or to get your accident at work claim started today, contact our expert construction accident solicitors today on 0345 872 6666. Alternatively, fill out the online contact form on this page and we will be in touch at a time suitable for you.

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