Study reveals that injury and ill health is costing UK construction £1.29 billion a year

Injuries and ill health to workers is costing the UK construction industry approximately £1.29 billion a year, according to a new study of data from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) by the construction site storage experts at Sitestak.

Estimated cost of injury and ill health to construction exceeds £1.2 billion

The research, which looked at recently published statistics from the HSE, found that the estimated cost from ill health and injury in UK construction to be between £963 and £1,476 million per year, with the central estimate being £1,291 million (£1.29 billion).

The central estimate cost of injuries in UK construction alone is £659 million – higher than in other heavy goods and services industries including agriculture (£199 million), transport and storage (£322 million) and even manufacturing (£658 million).

Male construction workers are seven times more likely to be injured

Despite this high cost, there was a 7.85% year-on-year decrease in 2019/20 in non-fatal injuries to employees and self-employed people in construction in Great Britain. Huge strides have been made to safety on construction sites over the last decade, with non-fatal injuries in UK construction having decreased by 45.56%.

That said, the research also shows that male construction workers are seven times more likely than women to have a non-fatal accident or injury at work – and not just because there are more male workers. In 2019/20 there were 395 non-fatal accidents per 100,000 male construction workers compared to just 52 non-fatal accidents per 100,000 female construction workers.

Falls and being struck are the biggest drivers of fatalities

However, progress still needs to be made on minimising the number of more serious injuries. Fatalities to construction workers in Great Britain have actually risen slightly over the last two years from 1.36 people per 100,000 in 2018/19 to 1.84 people per 100,000 in 2020/21. Over the whole of the last decade there has been a modest decrease in fatal injuries of just 2.44%.

In 2020/21 most fatalities in UK construction were men and the leading causes of death was falling from a height (20) or being struck (9) either against, by an object or by a moving vehicle. Older workers are also more likely to suffer fatality. In 2019/20 there were 3.78 deaths per 100,000 construction workers aged 60-64 compared to just 1.13 deaths per 100,000 workers aged 25 to 34.

Peter James, Managing Director of SiteStak commented: “While the number of construction-related injuries are on a slow overall decline, our study reveals that ill health in the industry is still leading to a large human and financial cost. Fatal and non-fatal injuries in construction remain stubbornly high and it is sad to see that males and older workers seem to be disproportionately affected.”

“Unfortunately, we hear all too often of accidents caused by poor organisation and chaotic building sites. It’s not just that more materials lying on construction sites tends to lead to more trips and falls. Disorganisation also leads to greater human movement around building sites, which means a greater chance of a fall or being struck. Given our findings we would like to see more measures to ward against injury where feasible. This should include better management of construction sites and could also mean stronger adherence to health and safety procedures, greater use of safety apparel, more regular breaks and more thorough risk assessments.”

The SiteStak materials management system has been specifically designed to improve organisation on building sites. It helps to prevent trips and falls by reducing excess materials lying on site and the need for human movement across building sites. Its new saw guide and clamp also helps to prevent injury and encourages better posture during use.

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