Costs to Great Britain of workplace injuries and new cases of work-related Ill Health – 2019/20

Important Note

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.

HSE statistics show that each year, over a million workers are injured or made ill by their work in Great Britain. This can have serious effects on these individuals and their families, as well as employers, government and wider society. The impacts can be measured in terms of ‘human’ costs (the impact on the individual’s quality of life and, for fatal injuries, loss of life), and ‘financial’ costs, such as loss of production and healthcare costs. HSE’s estimate of the total costs of workplace injuries and ill health includes both financial costs and a valuation of human costs. 

The latest estimates show that, based on data from 2018/19 to 2021/22, an average of 612,000 workers were injured in workplace accidents each year and a further 619,000 workers each year suffered a new case of ill health which they believe to be caused or made worse by their work1.  The cost estimates (for 2019/20) include only new cases of work-related ill health and self-reported injuries, and exclude pre-existing cases, to represent the costs arising from current working conditions.

Total Costs to Britain were around £18.8bn in 2019/20 2

Injury and ill health Cost
Injury (equivalent to unit cost of £1.9 m per fatal injury, £12,000 per non-fatal injury 7600000000
Ill health (equivalent to unit cost of £18,100 per case) 11200000000

The total costs of workplace self-reported injuries and ill health in 2019/20 was £18.8 billion. Ill health causes the biggest proportion of total costs at around 60% (£11.2 billion), with injury resulting in around 40% of total costs (£7.6 billion).

Ill health contributes to a greater proportion of total costs, despite injuries accounting for a similar proportion of cases, as ill health cases result in more time off work on average, which drives higher costs.

Individuals bear the majority of costs

Individual costs are £11.5 bn. Costs to the employer are £3.5 bn. Costs to the Government are £3.8 bn.

Category Individuals Employer Government
Workplace self-reported injuries 11500000000 3500000000 3800000000

The majority of costs fall on individuals, driven by human costs, while employers and government/taxpayers bear a similar proportion of the remaining costs of workplace injury and ill health.

Change over time

  • Our central estimate of total costs in 2019/20 (£18.8bn) represents an increase of around £1.2 billion (a 7% increase) compared with 2018/19, however due to the confidence intervals around this estimate it does not represent a statistically significantly difference from pre-pandemic levels. Prior to the pandemic, our estimates of total costs had shown little variation since 2009/10.
  • The chart showing the cost over time can be found in the report Costs to Britain of workplace fatalities and self-reported injuries and ill health, 2019/20

Notes

  1. Source: Labour Force Survey (non-fatal injuries) and RIDDOR (fatal injuries); annual average estimate 2018/19-2021/22 Back to reference of footnote 1
  2. Estimated annual average costs 2018/19, 2019/20, 2021/22 (in 2020 prices) Back to reference of footnote 2
Updated 2022-11-21