Employers are today (Wednesday 3 July) urged to provide better protection for older workers as new figures reveal a quarter of those killed at work last year were aged 60 or over.
Thirty-seven of the 147 people who lost their lives in workplace accidents in 2018-19 were in this age group – despite them making up only ten per cent of the British workforce.
The figures, published by the Health and Safety Executive, also reveal a slight rise in the number of fatalities for the second year running, up from 141 in 2017-18 and 135 in 2016-17.
But the number of people being killed in workplaces is much lower than 20 years ago, when 253 people died, and in 1981 (the first year the figures included self-employed people), when 495 people were killed.
Richard Jones, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), said: “Britain is one of the safest places in the world to work and is much safer than it was four decades ago. This is down to many reasons, including legislation and regulation, but there is also a real drive among businesses to protect their employees, recognising the benefits that brings.
“However, we cannot become complacent given that 147 people were killed at work last year. That is 147 too many. It is 147 families suffering the pain and anguish of a lost loved one. The fact that workplace accidents are preventable only adds to the pain.
“It is worrying that a quarter of those killed were aged 60 or over. Our working lives are getting longer, and older workers are an important resource and can provide invaluable expertise and experience.
“There are often more health and safety risks associated with older workers but they, like all other working people, have the right to expect their safety, health and wellbeing will not be put at risk by work. Employers must ensure they have strong measures in place to protect them.
“Good occupational safety and health management helps ensure that all workers, young and old, can fulfill their potential at work and come home safe.”
Workers aged between 60 and 64 were twice as likely to die in a workplace accident last year, with 0.92 per 100,000 being killed, compared to the average for all groups of 0.45. The rate for those aged 65 and over was even higher, with 1.99 per 100,000 killed.
The most common cause of deaths for all ages was falls from height, accounting for 40 cases, while 30 workers died after being struck by a moving vehicle.
The figures also highlighted the most dangerous sectors, with 32 deaths in agriculture, forestry and fishing, and 30 in construction.