The UK’s most dangerous jobs

The HSE has just published its annual review of all fatal workplace injuries in the UK and the results may surprise you. Last year, 147 workers were killed while on the job. Even though this was a decline from 179 workers killed ten years ago, it is a reminder to us all that there are still very dangerous jobs in the UK.

Below is a breakdown of the some of the most dangerous jobs in the UK according to the industries profiled in the HSE’s report.


Last year, 30 individuals died from fatal workplace injuries in the construction sector. Out of all of the industries, construction had the highest number of individuals who suffered fatal injuries. However, the annual average from the past four years is actually 36 deaths so, in comparison, the number has certainly declined.

Mining and quarrying deaths were not considered in a separate industry grouping, but the HSE found that the rate of fatal injury for mining and quarrying was about four times as high as the average rate across all of the industries, which is similar to that of construction.

Agriculture, forestry and fishing

32 people died from fatal injuries in the agriculture, forestry and fishing industries. This is an increase from 29, which is the average yearly fatality number from the last five years.

The agriculture, forestry and fishing industries are the most dangerous industries as the rate of fatal injury is 18 times as high as the average across all of the industries respectively.


Last year, 26 people suffered fatal injuries in the manufacturing sector. This is up from the average of the last five years of 21 people. The numbers of fatalities in manufacturing has fluctuated widely in the last five years, but last year the number spiked to 26 after a low of 15 deaths the year before.

Transportation and storage

For the transportation and storage industry grouping, 16 people died from fatal injuries, which is just a slight increase from the five-year average of 15. Like the manufacturing sector, the transportation and storage industry groups have a fatal injury rate of 1.5 to 2 times the average of all of the other industries.

Wholesale, retail, motor repair, accommodation and food

During the last year, 18 deaths occurred in this varied sector. From these 18 deaths:
• One occurred in the accommodation sector
• Two occurred in the retail sector
• Seven occurred in wholesale and the retail trade of vehicles
• Eight occurred in various wholesale trade activities
This grouping of industries amounts to roughly 7% of the total workplace fatalities which occurred last year. However, when considered in the context of how many workers are in the various industries included in this industry grouping, it is actually a very low risk area.

Waste and recycling

Perhaps surprisingly, the waste and recycling industry grouping is one of the most dangerous with a fatal injury rate of 17 times the average across all other industries. Last year, seven people died from fatal injuries in the waste and recycling industry. While this may seem like a small number, when you adjust for how few people are active workers in the industry, it becomes clear that it is actually comparatively a very high fatality rate.

Administrative and support services

Ten people died from fatal injuries in the administrative and support services industry group last year. In addition to this number, there were eight other fatal injuries which occurred in other sectors. This includes public administration, human health, social work and education.

Reading the data

One thing to be aware of is that you can view the data of fatal injuries in one of two different ways. You can either consider the workplace fatalities according to the absolute count of fatalities, or you can consider the fatalities in terms of the number of fatalities per 100,000 workers employed. When the data is considered in this second context, the effect of year-to-year fluctuations is minimised and the data becomes more stable.

Dangerous jobs and staying safe

Clearly, it is just as important as it has always been to ensure and promote the safety of everyone on a worksite. Part of ensuring you have a safe worksite is making sure that your workers all have proper PPE for their roles and that they are all trained on the risks associated with their roles, and how to mitigate those risks.

Just as importantly however, is ensuring that your worksite has been properly assessed for health and safety risks, and that you have the safety equipment necessary to mitigate those risks. Moreover, by creating a safe workplace, you are also performing your legal responsibility as an employer and ensuring that you are legally protected in the event of any future incidents.

Disclaimer: The information provided through Legislation Watch is for general guidance only and is not legal advice. Legislation Watch is not a substitute for Health and Safety consultancy. You should seek independent advice about any legal matter.

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