Though the UK is one of the safest places in the world to work, workplace fatalities still occur and the leading industry for these fatalities is construction. Though the total number of workplace fatalities is trending downwards “safety must continue to be at the top of everyone’s agenda” (Albon, 2023). A recent (July 6, 2023) HSE publication explains the leading causes of workplace fatalities in the UK today and is a timely reminder of how to make them safer.

Here are the top 3 leading cause of workplace fatalities and methods you can implement to prevent them:

Falls from height:

The first, and most common cause of fatal injury is falls from height, contributing to close to 30% of the total workplace fatalities that occurred in the 2022/2023 period. These deaths can occur more often in construction due to the likelihood of workers working on scaffolding, ladders, rooftops, etc. Our consultants have seen first-hand the examples of workers who take too many risks in this regard. We always aim to work together with them to raise their awareness of safe ways of working without ‘preaching’ (which can often be counter-productive!) We know that you are experts in your field, but sometimes it pays to bear in mind just how dangerous your occupation can be, without the proper precautions:

  • avoid work at height where it’s reasonably practicable to do so.
  • where work at height cannot be easily avoided, prevent falls using either an existing place of work that is already safe or the right type of equipment.
  • where the risk cannot be eliminated, minimize the distance and consequences of a fall by using the right type of equipment.

The steps to take and avoid when working at height

When working at height you should:

  • do as much work as possible from the ground – easier said than done, we know!
  • ensure workers can get safely to and from where they work at height
  • ensure equipment is suitable, stable and strong enough for the job, maintained and checked regularly
  • take precautions when working on or near fragile surfaces
  • provide protection from falling objects
  • consider emergency evacuation and rescue procedures

To prevent accidents and injuries do not:

  • overload ladders – consider the equipment or materials workers are carrying before working at height. Check the pictogram or label on the ladder for information
  • overreach on ladders or stepladders
  • rest a ladder against weak upper surfaces, for example glazing or plastic gutters
  • use ladders or stepladders for strenuous or heavy tasks, only use them for light work of short duration (a maximum of 30 minutes at a time)
  • let anyone who is not competent (who doesn’t have the skills, knowledge and experience to do the job) work at height

(information gathered from HSE website, available here)

Being struck by a moving object

Our second leading cause of workplace fatalities are strikes delivered by moving objects, this accounted for approximately 21% of the total workplace fatalities in 2022/2023. As a part of the construction industry, you know that there are many components that make up your construction site, and these components can vary in size and weight. The largest contributing factor to injuries caused by moving objects is if an object falls and strikes a worker or member of the public. The most effective method to mitigating this risk is ensuring that your risk assessments are comprehensive, up to date, and adhered to. These risk assessments will outline the potential dangers and ways that you can proactively lessen the dangers and effects of an accident.

Available on our site, we have readily made risk assessments that you can acquire to take the necessary steps to nurturing your workplace safety. These risk assessments have been thoroughly prepared by industry experts and are fully editable to include you company name and logo if necessary, we also have a team available to answer any queries you may have before you finalise your purchase. If this is something you could use for your workplace here are the links:

For our construction risk assessments (click here)

We also have a free sample available for you to evaluate our professionalism for yourself, for this (click here)

Being struck by a moving vehicle

Our third and final leading cause of workplace fatalities in the UK is strikes delivered by moving vehicles. These accounted for 15% of the total workplace fatalities. Vehicles play many work-related roles across a wide range of industries and construction is no exception. There are many factors that can affect the effectiveness of control measures used in mitigating risks derived from moving vehicles. One of these factors is the time of day: certain times may come with increased risk of injury from moving vehicles and your control measures should account for this. This can be done by including this risk in your risk assessment and the implementation of measures to lower traffic at these peak times, such as no moving lorries when there is a shift change. Another factor would be visitors. All visitors should be carefully managed while on site. They should be given clear instructions on site rules, which should include the use of PPE where necessary to ensure their own safety and that of others..

It is important that site workers and visiting employees can communicate effectively, using agreed signals where verbal communication is not possible.


Across all industries in the UK, construction has been found to be the one with the greatest number of workplace fatalities. Those working in the industry should take measured and calculated approaches to their work to avoid the consequences that can be brought on by working unsafely. The implementation of robust working practices, relevant risk assessment, and clear communication will go a long way towards achieving your safety goals. It is important to note that simply implementing these methods will not make these risks go away, health and safety is a continuous process that requires frequent evaluation by both employers and employees to best protect your site, its workers, and the public.

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