Statistics on UK Construction Industry Accidents, Common Causes & Prevention

Fatal accidents rose by 20% in the last five years, with falls from height as a leading cause. The industry also leads in work-related Musculoskeletal Disorder.
May 1, 2024 by
Statistics on UK Construction Industry Accidents, Common Causes & Prevention
SP Group Global Ltd

Injuries and accidents are, unfortunately, quite common in the construction industry across the globe. In the UK alone, fatal accidents have risen by nearly 20% in the last five years, with falls from height being the leading cause [1]. Here’s the latest data from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Construction Site Injury Statistics Summary for 2023

The HSE records 561,000 workers sustaining non-fatal injuries, according to self-reports from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) in 2022-2023. However, 60,645 were only reported by employers in the same year, per RIDDOR [2]. A total of 135 workers were killed in work-related accidents, an increase of 12 fatalities from 2021-2022.

Falls from heights were the main cause of these tragic incidents, with 40 cases reported in 2022. This was closely followed by accidents involving:

  • Being struck by moving vehicles
  • Contact with machinery in motion
  • Being trapped by collapsing structures

How Many Fatal Accidents Happen Annually on Construction Sites?

The latest HSE report reveals a significant rise of almost 20% in fatal injuries over the last five years. In 2022, there were 45 reported fatal injuries, up from 39 in the previous year. Furthermore, the rate of fatal accidents per 100,000 workers increased by 22% in 2022, reaching 2.1 compared to 1.72 in 2021 [3].

Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorder (MSD)

Around 437,000 workers are experiencing work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). These are injuries to the muscles, nerves, tendons, joints, cartilage, and spinal discs. 41% accounts for back and upper limbs or neck issues. Construction ranks among sectors with the highest instances of work-related MSDs. This is unsurprising, given the widespread manual handling risks inherent to the industry.

Employers must understand the regulations that apply to all forms of physical work, such as:

The Main Causes of Accidents in Construction

Workers in the construction industry are more likely to sustain injuries at work. Falling from heights is the main cause of non-fatal accidents, with about 33%, followed by slips, trips, and falls from the same level with 31%. 14% for getting hit by something moving, and 6% for injuries from handling, lifting, or carrying objects [4].

Accidents like these can lead to injuries, such as:

  • Fractures to bones other than fingers, thumbs and toes, usually from falling or getting hit by heavy objects
  • Amputations from accidents involving machinery or equipment
  • Blindness or being partially sighted after exposure to chemicals or debris
  • Crush injuries (such as getting squished between things) causing brain or organ damage
  • Serious burns or scalding when in contact with hot objects or substances
  • Scalping requiring hospital treatment, usually in accidents involving machinery or equipment)
  • Loss of consciousness caused by head injury or asphyxia, often due to falls or being trapped in confined spaces
  • Hypothermia from being too cold) or heatstroke (from being too hot)
  • Injuries requiring resuscitation or a 24-hour plus hospital stay, such as electrocution or being trapped in a structural collapse

What Action Can Be Taken to Combat Accidents in Construction Sites?

There are non-negotiable methods to ensure safety on-site and prevent accidents and injuries:

  1. Proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE) for all workers. This includes hard hats, high-visibility clothing, steel-toed boots, gloves, and safety glasses.
  2. Regular site inspections by a qualified safety supervisor/manager, including checking for any safety breaches, faulty equipment, or environmental concerns.
  3. A well-documented emergency response plan with all workers familiarised with evacuation procedures, first aid locations, and emergency contact information.
  4. Training and education for everyone on safety protocols, equipment operations, and emergency procedures.
  5. Hazard communication for visual safety signals, alarms, and regular safety meetings.
  6. Train workers in correct lifting techniques, storage procedures, and the proper use of handling equipment. Avoid overloading scaffolding and ensure materials are stacked securely. Read our guide on ‘Scaffolding Safety Requirements You Need to Know’ to learn more.

[Source: Safety Tips]

The statistics on accidents in the construction industry show how crucial continual improvement of safety standards is. Consider reading The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, the primary law governing occupational health and safety in the UK, for guidance.

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