18 December, 2019
The Health and Safety Executive ("HSE") has released its annual report summarising statistics for 2018/19 related to work-related illness, deaths in the workplace, injuries at work, and working days lost to work-related illness and injury.
The report confirmed that the rate of self-reported work-related ill health and working days lost due to self-reported work-related illness both show generally a downward trend, but have been broadly flat in recent years. 1.4 million workers are currently suffering from work-related ill health, and 23.5 million days were lost due to work-related ill health for the relevant time period.
54% of the lost days were due to stress, depression or anxiety, which the report confirms is showing signs of increasing in recent years. Workload, lack of support, threats or bullying and changes at work are estimated to be the main causes of work-related stress, depression or anxiety. Over 600,000 workers were identified as suffering from work related stress, depression or anxiety, with 246,000 being new cases for the relevant time period. 12.8 million working days have been lost due to the condition.
Industries identified with a higher than average rate of stress, depression or anxiety are Public Administration/Defence, Human Health and Social Work, and Education.
The number of fatalities in the workplace has remained broadly similar in recent years, although overall has shown a long-term downward trend. 147 workers were killed at work during the requisite time period, with 581,000 sustaining a non-fatal injury. Interestingly, the UK consistently has one of the lowest standardised rates of fatal injury across the EU, and is lower than other large economies and the EU average. UK rates of work-related ill health resulting in sick leave were also lower than most EU countries.
The report summarises the costs to Britain of workplace injury and new cases of work-related ill health for the previous period (2107-2018). The total costs take account of financial costs covering the loss of output, healthcare costs and other associated costs incurred, and monetary valuation given to pain, grief suffering and loss of life. The Report estimates the cost to Britain for that time period as £15.0 billion. Interestingly, when the impact of the loss was analysed, the cost borne by employers was £3.0 billion, £3.4 billion borne by the Government, and £8.6 billion by individuals.
When enforcement was addressed, the HSE identified a fall in the number of cases prosecuted. Additionally, the number of notices issued by enforcement bodies also showed a decrease, and the level of fine issued has decreased compared to the previous time period. Fines totaling £54.5 million resulted from prosecutions.
The report shows that Britain continues to be one of the safest places to work within the EU, but that stress, anxiety and depression in the workplace are an increasing concern for employers. Mental health is very much present in the media at the current time as an issue needing increased attention and redress. The report findings affirm this assertion and given the associated costs to employers when staff are away from the workplace as a result of stress, depression or anxiety, it would be worthwhile employers considering the adequacy of their training and support programs, and policies addressing this area.
For more information contact Rosalind Leahy in our Employment & HR department via email or phone on 01772 220185. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.