The Health and Safety Executive has recently published its annual statistics for 2021/2022, which will be of interest to most employers. These show that that in the past 12 months there were 1.8 million of cases of work-related ill health. Of those, 50% are cases of work-related stress, depression or anxiety; resulting in 17 million working days being lost. This is an increase from previous years, both in terms of the number of cases of work-related ill health, together with the proportion of those which relate to stress, depression or anxiety. The increase in this trend was recognised by the HSE earlier in the year when it published its new 10 year strategy which focusses on current and future areas of risk. It stated, as its first objective, reducing “work- related ill health, with a specific focus on mental health and stress”.
The statistics include, once again, figures relating to COVID infections, with 100,000 workers having suffered from COVID which they believe they may have caught at work. 600,999 workers have sustained a non-fatal injury, and 123 workers have been killed in work-related accidents. 13,000 deaths are estimated to be linked to historic exposure at work (mainly to chemicals or dust).
In terms of industries, human health/social work and public administration/defence attract the highest number of cases of work-related ill health, whereas, agriculture, forestry and fishing and construction, account for the highest number of workplace injuries (per 100,000 workers in each case). This remains the same as in previous years.
In another report published in November, the HSE has been careful not to draw any conclusion as to any lasting impact the COVID pandemic has had on work-elated ill health. However, the continued increase in cases of stress, depression or anxiety shown by these most recent statistics is notable.
The trends identified in these recent statistics are useful, not least because they will inform the HSE's approach to particular areas of focus for enforcement action.