UK jump in fatal falls

In the UK the Health & Safety Executive has published the latest statistics on the number of fatalities at work, showing a 22 percent increase in the number of fatal falls from height.

In total 50 people lost their lives in the UK last year, after falling from a height while at work, compared to 41 in the previous year.

The last time the number of fatal falls from height was at this sort of level was in 2007/08 since then, the number of fatal falls has declined in some years only to rise again. The 2023/24 figure, is however 35 percent above the five year average.

Despite advances in height safety, ongoing campaigns and increasing awareness of the risks of working at height, falls from height remain the leading cause of workplace fatalities in the UK, accounting for 36 percent of the 138 fatalities last year. Of greater concern is that the proportion of falls from height has continued to increase from 25 to 30 and now 36 percent of all workplace accidents.

Oddly – perhaps – the greatest increase in fatal falls- 44 percent - was among the self-employed, from 18 deaths last year to 26 this year, exceeding the number for employees for the first time.

The Access Industry Forum (AIF) has been trying to determine whether the increase is related to issues such as faulty equipment, lack of training, or negligence, but with poor reporting has failed to reach a conclusion. It is therefore calling for a simplified system of reporting to more accurately reflect the cause of workplace accidents so that informed, preventative measures can be implemented to address the cause of fall from height incidents.

Chairman Peter Bennett said: “The latest HSE fatal injury figures paint an overwhelmingly bleak picture. It’s clear something isn’t working. Most falls from height are avoidable, but only if we can understand what’s causing them in the first place. Very little information is provided on the circumstance around fatal (and non-fatal) incidents, with current reporting focused on the type of incident as opposed to what caused it in the first place. This needs to change if we are to tackle the worsening issue of workers being killed, and the number of people who suffer the life-changing consequences of a fall from height.”

The full reports
Click here for the full HSE report which can be read online and/or downloaded.

Also: Kinds of Accidents in GB