Accidents in the Construction Industry 2024: Report

Fatal accidents up almost 20% in the past 5 years, with falling from height accounting for most, according to the latest HSE data


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The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has recently reported that fatal injuries to UK construction workers have risen by almost 20% since 2016/17. The data revealed that the most common fatal accident was falling from heights, an outcome 233.33% more likely than being killed by something collapsing or overturning.

While the UK has some of the most comprehensive health, safety and risk assessment policies in Europe, the number of fatalities and accidents is still increasing each year.

Herts Tools have analysed the most up-to-date HSE and government data to establish the number of accidents, days which have been lost due to the accidents and the cost involved – as well as the actions which should be taken to improve safety.

What are the main causes of accidents in construction?

The latest data shows 561,000 non-fatal work-related injuries occurred last year (2022/2023). 

A total of 135 workers were killed in work-related accidents in Great Britain in 2022/23, an increase of 12 fatalities from 2021/22.

Among the most prevalent causes of these tragic incidents, falls from height emerged as the leading contributor, with 40 reported cases in 2022, up from 35 in 2021. This was closely followed by accidents involving being struck by moving vehicles, moving objects, contact with machinery in motion, and being trapped by collapsing structures.

Between them, these accidents account for around two-thirds of fatal injuries to workers in 2022-23. 

The UK has some of the most comprehensive construction regulations and legislation in the world. The primary law governing occupational health and safety is The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

Despite the long history of health and safety legislation in the UK, the very nature of the industry means that accidents will always happen. Construction requires large, powerful tools and machinery, with vehicles criss-crossing work sites and people working on high ladders and scaffolding on a daily basis.

How many fatal accidents occur each year on construction sites? 

According to the most recent HSE report, the construction industry has witnessed a staggering increase of nearly 20% in fatal injuries over the past five years. In 2022, there were 45 fatal injuries reported, compared to 39 in the previous year. 

The rate of fatal accidents per 100,000 workers also surged by 22% in 2022, reaching 2.1 compared to 1.72 in 2021.

What is the economic cost of workplace injuries? 

Injuries and ill health in workers in Great Britain cost around £16.2 billion in 2018/19. This compares to £20.6 billion in 2022. 

The data also revealed a significant rise in the number of days lost per construction worker due to injuries, standing at 6.4 days in 2022, marking a worrisome uptick of 23.08% since 2021.

In financial terms this equated to 13.9 million, an increase 25.23% year on year.

With businesses, government and individuals all struggling to meet inflation-related costs, it is vital that more is done to reduce the economic toll of injuries and illness.

How can construction companies prevent accidents? 

Falling from height

Almost a third (29.63%) of non-fatal accidents are caused by fall from height. So, how can they be prevented? 

If at all possible, it is best to avoid working at height. If it is necessary, there are four basic rules to follow, according to the Work at Height Regulations 2005**:

  • Plan any work at height
  • Provide proper training
  • Use the right equipment, whether it’s a ladder or a harness
  • Ensure equipment is properly fitted and regularly checked

It’s also important to ensure workspaces are clear and dry, with guard rails and toe-boards in place where required. Of course, appropriate PPE should always be supplied.

There are countless areas on construction sites where workers could suffer a fall: incomplete roofing sections, manholes and scaffolding to name just a few. Companies must make employees aware of the potential hazards in such areas, with regular reminders of the risks.

Struck-by-object hazards or vehicles

With 36.30% of all non-fatal accidents on work sites being caused by moving objects or vehicles, how can we prevent this from becoming a hazard? 

For instance, how do you prevent flying objects? Materials breaking off saws, lathes and similar machines is often unavoidable, but guards can prevent them from harming people operating them, as can safety goggles.

Falling objects are another commonplace hazard: so how can businesses prevent falling debris on construction sites? Canopies or debris nets can catch falling objects while securing forklift loads and storing heavy objects close to the ground should both be common practices. Yet one of the easiest ways to avoid falling materials on site is by outlawing the throwing of objects between people, particularly from height.

Where can construction workers seek professional advice?

With fatal construction site accidents rising, workers should not hesitate to seek professional advice if they have concerns about safety on their site.

Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity

The charity has been delivering charitable welfare and support to the construction community since 1956. The Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity is funded by the industry, for the industry.

Mates in Mind

Mates in Mind is a leading UK charity raising awareness and addressing the stigma of poor mental health. We promote and lead the development of positive mental well-being within the workplace. Mates in Mind works across industries, focusing on construction, as well as related sectors, including transport, logistics, manufacturing, and others. 

Construction Industry Helpline

This helpline, from the Best Practice Hub, provides a 24/7 safety net for all construction workers and their families. This includes advice on welfare, emergency financial aid and support on legal, tax and debt management matters.