Key 2020 Trends in Health & Safety in the UK

UK Health and Safety Statistics

Fact: This year has presented more than its fair share of challenges globally, particularly in the area of health and safety (H & S). On top of the fact that COVID-19 has claimed over 65,000 lives in United Kingdom to date, health officials and employers also had to address an increase in the number of work-related illnesses related to stress, anxiety and depression.

2020 will go down in history as a year unlike any other. Governments had to scramble to find solutions to a fast-growing pandemic; pharmaceutical giants had to dramatically ramp up efforts to develop and release a vaccine across the globe; and organizations had to pivot when it comes to their day-to-day operations as well as to their business continuity planning efforts.

Year-Over-Year H & S Trends in Great Britain

Despite the changes that businesses had to make to adapt to changes in the economic landscape, worker health and safety didn’t deteriorate completely. Based on key H & S indicators, the results were mixed, with some incidents on the rise, while others were on the decline (and some remained flat).

Here are some directional trends which were evident (from 2019 to 2020):

  • Areas which Showed an Upward Trend (i.e., worsened):
    • Incidences of workplace-related stress, anxiety and depression (key contributors include increasing volumes of work and insufficient sources of support).
    • Incidences of occupational lung diseases.
  • Areas which Reflected a Downward Trend (i.e., improved):
    • The rate and the number of days lost related to musculoskeletal illnesses (work-related).
    • Areas which have Not Shown Any Material Change in Numbers:
  • Areas which have Not Shown Any Material Change in Numbers:
    • Number of fatal injuries and non-fatal injuries (self-reported)
    • Number of work-related illness
    • Working days lost

Key 2020 Stats that Shed Light on the H & S Landscape in the United Kingdom

From a numbers perspective, here are some H & S-related statistics1 for 2019/2020:

  • Fatalities:
    • 111 fatal injuries.
    • 12,000 deaths related to lung diseases (which traced back to long-term exposure).
    • 2,446 deaths related to Mesothelioma (which have been tied to long-term exposure to asbestos).
  • Non-Fatal Injuries:
    • 65,427 non-fatal injuries reported by organizations.
    • 0.7 million non-fatal injuries in the workforce.
  • Disorders or Illnesses:
    • 1.6 million cases of work-related illnesses reported.
    • 0.5 million incidences of musculoskeletal disorders from work-related activities.
    • 0.8 million cases of anxiety, depression or stress directly linked to work.
  • Financial Costs:
    • £10.6 billion allocated to treating new cases of work-related illnesses.
    • £5.6 billion spent on treating workplace injuries.
  • Working Days Lost:
    • 38.8 million working days lost as a result of illnesses and or non-fatal injuries.

Key Insights Leaders of UK-Based Organizations have Applied to Drive Change in H & S

On a brighter note, executives from organizations such as DHL Global Forwarding, Evonik, ABB, KONE and Lloyd’s Register have been able to make strategic, operational and cultural changes to improve worker safety within their organizations.

Here are some key insights they recommend other leaders apply to drive impact on the H & S front:

  1. Establish well-defined priorities and ensure that you document observations and capture feedback from all levels of your organization.
  2. Remove all barriers to capturing incident-related information from field-level employees and ensure that all employees are engaged through regular communications or touchpoints.
  3. Assign regional compliance SMEs to help capture local regulations and requirements to better monitor and manage compliance-related issues.
  4. Ensure that both written and verbal communications are inclusive in nature and from a messaging perspective, reinforce the fact that you share a common goal.
  5. Keep an open mind to adopting new technologies but, always ensure that the human element is a part of the process (i.e., don’t automate the analysis and decisioning part of workflows).
  6. Create a company-wide safety culture by getting feedback from all levels of the organization (i.e., apply a bottom-up approach).
  7. Encourage and engage leaders from other functional areas to be champions of safety culture and collaboratively improve processes and perspectives.

According to Wim Koster, Head of Global Safety at KONE: “People ask me, how many people I have in my safety organization? My answer? About 58,000, because that’s roughly the number of people working for us. The moment you accept that safety is just the responsibility of the company’s safety manager, you are too far away from where you need to be.”

To learn more about how organizations are ramping up efforts to improve worker and workplace safety, please click here.


HSE. (October 5, 2020). Health and safety at work. Summary statistics for Great Britain 2020.

This entry was posted in Health & Safety Management and tagged , by Farhana Ahmad. Bookmark the permalink.

About Farhana Ahmad

Farhana Ahmad is a Content Marketing Manager at Intelex Technologies. With over 15 years of experience in key industries, she is a customer-focused professional specializing in delivering best-in-class Marketing and Content strategies and programs. Her degree in Environmental Science complements her marketing know-how, allowing her to incorporate her academic knowledge to the real-world applicability of the EHSQ space in general and Intelex in particular.

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