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Number of people killed at work rose to 142 last year, HSE figures show

Published 27/10/2015

The cost of work injuries and ill health to the economy is estimated to be £14.3 billion
The cost of work injuries and ill health to the economy is estimated to be £14.3 billion

The number of people killed at work increased last year to 142, new figures have shown.

Work-related fatalities increased by nine compared with the previous year, said the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The cost of work injuries and ill health to the economy was estimated to be £14.3 billion, a slight increase on the previous 12 months.

Injuries at work and days lost as a result of work-related issues both fell slightly.

The figures for 2014-15 showed that 1.2 million people were suffering from an illness they believed was caused or made worse by their work, of which half a million were new conditions that started during the year.

A further 0.8 million former workers were suffering from an illness which was caused or made worse by their past work.

The new figures showed that 2,538 people died from asbestos-related diseases in 2013, virtually the same as the previous year.

A total of 27.3 million days were lost due to work-related ill health or injury, slightly down on the previous year.

Around 13,000 deaths each year from work-related lung disease and cancer are estimated to be attributed to past exposure, mainly to chemicals and dust at work.

Most of these diseases take many years to develop and so deaths occurring now are largely a result of past workplace conditions.

Current estimates (based on 2005 data) suggest there are at least 8,000 work-related cancer deaths each year in Britain.

More than half of these cancer deaths were caused by past exposures to asbestos - either mesothelioma or asbestos-related l ung cancer.

The next four biggest categories of work-related cancer were lung cancer due to silica, diesel engine exhaust and mineral oils, and breast cancer due to shift work.

The number of new cases of stress, depression or anxiety has remained broadly flat for more than a decade, with an estimate of 234,000 in the latest year.

For musculoskeletal disorders, the estimated number of new cases fell from 215,000 in 2001/02 to 142,000 in 2011/12. The level of 169,000 in 2014/15 was similar to those in recent years.

HSE chairwoman Judith Hackitt said: "It's encouraging that there have been improvements in injuries and ill-health caused by work-related activities. But behind the statistics are people, their families, friends, work colleagues, directly affected by something that's gone wrong, that is usually entirely preventable.

"Nobody should lose their life or become ill simply from doing their job. These figures show that, despite the great strides and improvements made over the last 40 years since Britain's health and safety regime was established, there is still more that can be done."

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