Historical picture: trends in work-related ill health and workplace injury in Great Britain
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the government's response has impacted recent trends in health and safety statistics published by HSE and this should be considered when comparing across time periods. More details can be found in our reports on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on health and safety statistics.
In recent decades there have been large reductions in both fatal and non-fatal workplace injuries. However, the picture for ill health is mixed.
Since more recent data includes the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic it is not possible to put current data in the context of the longer-term trends. However, we can make comparisons of the level of work-related illness and injury in 2021/22 with pre-coronavirus levels.
Over the long-term the number of fatal injuries to employees has substantially reduced. There has also been a large reduction in non-fatal injuries. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic the rate of self-reported non-fatal injury to workers showed a generally downward trend and the current rate is similar to the 2018/19 pre-coronavirus levels. Likewise, for RIDDOR reported injuries prior to the coronavirus pandemic the rate of non-fatal injury to employees reported by employers showed a downward trend though the current rate is below the pre-coronavirus levels.
Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the rate of total self-reported work-related illness (includes both new and long-standing cases), particularly musculoskeletal disorders, had declined from the level seen in the 1990s. In contrast, the rate of self-reported work-related stress, depression or anxiety had shown signs of increasing in the recent years prior to the coronavirus pandemic, having been broadly flat since around 1998/99.
The rate of total self-reported work-related illness was higher in 2021/22 than the 2018/19 pre-coronavirus level, driven by a higher rate of self-reported work-related stress, depression or anxiety. For self-reported work-related musculoskeletal disorders, the rate in 2021/22 was broadly similar to the 2018/19 pre-coronavirus level.
Annual mesothelioma deaths increased substantially over the last few decades due to past asbestos exposures but have remained broadly level over recent years. Numbers are expected to decline during the 2020s.
Supporting data tables
- for self-reported work-related illness in England and Wales,
covering Labour Force Surveys for the years 1990, 1995 and
1998/99, see LFSILLHIST;
- for self-reported work-related illness in Great Britain, see LFSILLTYP;
- for death certificates mentioning mesothelioma in Great
Britain, see MESO01;
- for self-reported non-fatal workplace injuries in Great Britain, see LFSINJSUM;
- for employer-reported fatal and non-fatal injuries in Great Britain, see RIDHIST;
Working days lost
- for working days lost due to work-related illness and non-fatal workplace injury in Great Britain, see LFSWDL.