137 Workers killed at work in 2016/17 – Employers Liability

28 September 2017

Figures from the HSE revealed that 137 workers died in their place of employment in 2016/17. Accidents happen but this seems a spectacularly high figure especially when the figures do not include: -

1. Fatal accidents involving workers travelling on a public highway (a 'road traffic accident'). Such incidents are enforced by the police and reported to the Department for Transport. Those killed whilst commuting (travelling from home to work, and vice versa) are also excluded.

2. Fatal accidents involving workers travelling by air or sea. These incidents are the responsibility of the Air Accident Investigation Branch and Marine Accident Investigation Branch, and reported accordingly.

3. Fatal injuries at work due to 'natural causes', usually heart attacks or strokes, unless brought on by trauma due to the accident.

4. Fatal accidents to members of the armed forces.

It should be the expectation of employees to be able to return to work without any injury, let alone a one that may result in serious injury or fatality.

The HSE helpfully break down the nature of the main kinds of accident (see below). Many of these are very much avoidable with proper planning and safety precaution.

  • Struck by moving moving vehicle - 31
  • Falls from a height - 25
  • Struck by moving object - 20
  • Trapped something collapsing or overturning - 10
  • Contact with moving machinery - 8
  • Contact with electricity - 8


More can be done to make employees safer. While the general trend is that there has been a significant fall in fatal injury per 100,000 workers this may be linked more to the closure of many traditional industries. Simply put one avoidable fatal injury is one too many.

As an inquest lawyer I don’t want to see families in pieces following an avoidable fatality, however if it does impact, early advice from an experienced specialist is essential.

Jerard Knott, Associate Solicitor

Head of Medical Negligence and Serious Injury.

The Inquest and Fatal Accidents team is a cross department team led by Jerard Knott, Associate Solicitor. The team has experience in all aspects of fatal accidents, having represented families of people killed in medical, workplace, industrial and road traffic accidents.