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Workplace Death Figures Tip Of Iceberg

Wednesday, July 5, 2017


HSE numbers down slightly – but each death demands justice and enforcement says union.

GMB, which has members across every sector of the British economy, said today’s official workplace death figures hide tens of thousands of related deaths.

Official HSE figures show 137 people died at work in the financial year 2016/17. [see note 1 for breakdown by sector]

GMB says while the number of deaths is down slightly, they are just the tip of the iceberg and every death demands justice and enforcement.

Dan Shears, GMB Health and Safety Director, said:

“Whilst this is a low figure compared to the plateau of recent years, it is absolutely no cause for celebration.

“Each of these avoidable deaths is a tragic cutting short of a life, and leaves behind devastated family, friends, and colleagues.

“Every one of these deaths deserves full investigation, with enforcement and prosecution where warranted.

“In an economy moving from industrial manufacture to service provision, it remains shocking that 137 died at work – and this figure excludes tens of thousands of deaths due to industrial disease, work-related suicide, and deaths on road, rail, air and sea. [2]

“It gives a misleading picture of the true ‘burden’ of health and safety failings on our society.

“The recent disaster at Grenfell Tower shows the consequences of deregulation, and this government and future governments must ensure that our regulations are protected, strengthened, and proactively enforced, so that next years’ statistics reflect genuine progress and protection of workers.

“No-one ever died from too much regulation, but the human cost of ‘cutting red tape’ remains intolerable.”


Contact: Dan Shears on 07918 767781 or GMB Press Office on 07958 156846 or at

Notes to Editors:

[1] HSE’s newly published statistics can be found at:

Breakdown by sector:

30 construction

27 agriculture

19 manufacturing

14 logistics

14 waste industry

33 Other

[2] These statistics reflect only those deaths required to be reported under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013.

They exclude the vast majority of work-related deaths:

• Deaths from industrial disease – heart disease, lung disease, occupational cancer – estimated at between 20,000 (Trades Union Congress) and 50,000 (UK National Hazards Campaign) each year.

• Work-related suicides, likely to be at least 100+ each year.

• Work-related deaths on railways and road (regulated by the Office for Rail and Road)

• Work-related marine deaths off-shore (regulated by the Marine Accident Investigation Board;

 • Work-related aviation deaths airside (regulated by the Civil Aviation Authority’s Air Accident Investigation Board.

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