Work-related ill health and occupational disease in Great Britain

Important Note

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the government’s response has impacted recent trends in health and safety statistics published by HSE. More details can be found in our report on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on health and safety statistics.

12,000

Lung disease deaths each year estimated to be linked to past exposures at work

1.7 million

Workers suffering from work-related ill health (new or long-standing) in 2020/21 (LFS)

Occupational lung diseases contributing to estimated annual current deaths

12,000 lung disease deaths each year estimated to be linked to past exposure at work. 34% due to Chronic Obstructive pulmonary Disease (COPD), 23% Non-asbestos related lung cancer, 20% Asbestos related lung cancer, 20% Mesothelioma and 3% Other disease.

Diseases Number of diseases
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) 34
Non-asbestos related lung cancer 23
Asbestos related lung cancer 20
Mesothelioma 20
Other disease 3

New and long-standing cases of work-related ill health by type, 2020/21

New and long-standing cases of work-related ill health by type, 2020/21

1.7 million workers suffering from work-related ill healh (new or long standing) in 2020/21. 50% suffered stress, depression or anxiety, 28% musculoskeletal disorders and 22% other type of illness.

Type of illness Number of illness
Stress, depression or anxiety 50
Musculoskeletal disorders 28
Other type of illness 22

Rate of work-related ill health per 100,000 workers - new and long-standing

Year Work-related ill health Lower Bound Upper Bound
2001/02 4870 4690 5050
2002/03 0 4575 4930
2003/04 4630 4460 4810
2004/05 4210 4040 4390
2005/06 3910 3740 4080
2006/07 4710 4530 4900
2007/08 4170 3990 4350
2008/09 3890 3710 4070
2009/10 4230 4030 4420
2010/11 3830 3630 4030
2011/12 3550 3370 3730
2012/13 0 3580 3955
2013/14 3990 3790 4180
2014/15 3910 3710 4110
2015/16 4050 3840 4260
2016/17 3970 3750 4190
2017/18 4120 3890 4340
2018/19 4060 3830 4280
2019/20 4830 4570 5100
2020/21 4990 4680 5300

Trend:

  • In the recent years prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the rate of self-reported work-related ill health had been broadly flat. In 2020/21 the rate was higher than the 2018/19 pre-coronavirus levels.

Notes

  • Occupational lung diseases typically have a long latency (they take a long time to develop following exposure to the agent that caused them). Therefore, current deaths reflect the effect of past working conditions.
  • Estimates of work-related ill health are based on self-reports from the Labour Force Survey (LFS)
  • Two new measures have been developed to measure the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on self-reported work-related ill health. More details can be found on the COVID-19 Overview page and in the associated linked reports.
Updated 2021-12-08