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Most Dangerous Industries for Accidents at Work

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Based on figures from governmental and regulatory bodies such as the HSE and RIDDOR. The following industries stand out as the most dangerous when assessing the possibility of sustaining a serious injury or fatal injury at work.

The average fatal injury rate across all sectors in the UK is 0.42 death per 100,000 employees. Each of the industries below has been compared against this figure to assess the risk of fatal injury.

Agriculture, forestry & fishing

Employing just 1% of the overall UK workforce, Agriculture, forestry & fishing saw 832 injuries reported to RIDDOR and a total of 20 deaths in 2019/20.

With a 5-year average ‘Deaths per 100,000 workers’ figure of 5.96, compared to the UK industry average of 0.42, this makes those employed in the agriculture, forestry and fishing industry over 14 times more likely to sustain a fatal work injury than the average UK worker. Slips, trips, and falls were the main cause of non-fatal injuries in this sector.

Waste and Recycling

The waste and recycling sector saw 598 injuries reported to RIDDOR in 2019/20, along with 5 fatalities. Employing just 0.3% of the overall UK workforce but with a 5-year average ‘Deaths per 100,000 workers’ figure of 4.57, this makes those employed in the waste and recycling sector nearly 5 times as likely to be killed at work. The key risk to workers in this industry is being injured by moving machinery and vehicles.


As a key sector in the British economy, Construction employs over 7% of the overall British workforce. Whilst the figure of 4,526 non-fatal injuries reported to RIDDOR is one of the highest recorded; when the relative size of the workforce of each industry is considered, those employed in waste and recycling and agriculture both face a significantly greater risk of injury.

With a 5-year average ‘Deaths per 100,000 workers’ figure of 1.64, workers are nearly 4 times as likely to suffer a fatal injury. Falls from height was the primary cause of non-fatal injuries in construction, accounting for 47% of the injuries recorded.

Transportation & Storage

With 11 deaths in 2019/20, most of which were caused by road traffic accidents, the transport and storage industry sees employees just over twice as likely to suffer a fatal workplace injury than the average British employee.

With 8,864 non-fatal injuries reported under RIDDOR in 2019/20, three-quarters of which resulted in workers taking over 7 days off to recover, this sector has the second-highest injury rate of all the sectors assessed.

Unsurprisingly, considering the nature of the industry, the main cause of ‘over 7-day injuries’ were lifting and carrying incidents.


Manufacturing saw 11,245 non-fatal injuries reported under RIDDOR in 2019/20, 8656 (77%) of which resulted in the worker taking more than 7 days off work to recover. The majority of non-fatal injuries in manufacturing were associated with lifting and carrying incidents. With 15 fatal injuries in 2019/20 and a 5-year average ‘Deaths per 100,000 workers’ figure of 0.71, those employed in manufacturing are just under 2 times more likely to sustain a fatal injury than the average UK worker.

Common Accidents at Work leading to Injury

Sheldon Davidson Solicitors’ team of Work Accident Solicitors have experience of working on a varied range of work accident claims and regularly handle cases involving:

Slips or trips on dangerous surfaces

Slips and trips consistently account for the largest proportion of work injuries each year, affecting employees across a wide range of industries. Injuries of this type can result from something as simple as a slip on an unmarked wet floor or a trip on an unprotected power cable at work.

In the majority of cases, failure to follow health and safety regulations or poor working conditions consequently result in workers sustaining an injury due to a slip or trip at work.

Falls from a height

As the number one cause of fatal accidents at work, falls from height can have dire consequences. Working at height without taking the appropriate safety measures puts the worker at significant risk of injury. The Work at Height Regulations 2005 is intended to prevent death and injury by falling from height.

Under the regulations, employers and those in charge have a duty to ensure that work is carefully planned, supervised and that the people carrying out the work are suitably trained and competent. This also includes ensuring that the appropriate equipment is used for working at height.

Injuries from falling objects

The risk of being struck and injured by a falling object is greater in some industries than in others. One of the worst affected industries is construction, where workers are frequently injured by falling tools or building materials.

If appropriate health & safety protocols are not followed and safe working practices are not insisted upon, then it is far to easy for these types of injury to occur. Wearing appropriate Personal Protection Equipment’s (PPE), especially a hard hat, will significantly reduce the injuries caused by a falling object.

Injuries from agricultural accidents

Whether working in livestock or employed in the production of crops, farming and agriculture is a high-risk industry. There are numerous dangers within the farming environment that can cause injury to farmers and farm employees, not least the broad range of farming machinery equipment and vehicles used within the industry.

According to figures from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), across the farming, fishing, and forestry sector, there were 832 non-fatal injuries reported to RIDDOR and 20 fatal injuries in 2019/20.

Head or brain injuries at work

A head or brain injury can occur in a multitude of ways. It could be the result of a fall from a ladder, a forklift truck accident, or a road traffic accident whilst travelling to meet a client.

Even something as seemingly innocuous as a slip or trip can result in a severe head or brain injury. Injuries affecting the brain can often have dire consequences, affecting the injured person’s senses, body functions and movement.

These types of injury normally result in the victim being unable to work again and often require the individual to have some level of ongoing medical care.

Injuries from lack of required training

A key element of reducing the risk to employees is ensuring they are aware of the risks associated with their job. Another element is making sure that employees have received the appropriate training to enable them to mitigate those risks.

Most claims involving lack of training revolve around the improper use of heavy machinery, moving machinery, poor manual handling techniques, unsecured working at heights, and improper use of safety equipment.

Defective and dangerous  machinery equipment

It is the responsibility of employers to ensure that any equipment provided for use by employees is regularly checked, frequently maintained, and free from damage. Electrical tools should be PAT tested and approved at least every 12 months. Failure to carry out these tasks can lead to the risk of serious injury.

Injuries involving lifting or manual handling

Injuries involving lifting or manual handling are the most common cause of injuries in two key sectors in the UK economy, Transport & Storage and Manufacturing.

Injuries of this nature can normally be attributed to either poor lifting technique (due to lack of appropriate training) or the lifting of heavy items without access to the appropriate equipment or assistance.

Construction industry Injuries

The building trade can be extremely hazardous if health and safety regulations are not strictly adhered to. There are many ways in which those employed in the construction industry can sustain an injury. The physical environment itself is often hazardous, with uneven ground, holes in the ground and hazardous materials often found on site. There is also the risk of injury from moving vehicles, dangerous equipment used, falling objects and falls from height.

Exposure to harmful and dangerous substances

Certain industries require workers to be exposed to or handle harmful and dangerous substances, which have the potential to cause significant damage to health or sometimes, even death. The damage can be caused in a multitude of ways either through consumption, inhalation or contact with the skin. Depending on the industry and the type of substance used, these materials can take the form of solids, liquids, gases, vapours, and fumes. There are approximately 400 substances currently included on the HSE’s list of workplace exposure limits within the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations.

Unsuitable equipment (scaffolding and ladders)

Both scaffolding and ladders are commonly used within the construction and building industries and are a frequent cause of accidents in the industry due to the significant risk of falling. This is often due to the appropriate safety standards not being met.

Talk to a Specialist Work Injury Solicitor Today

Our specialist Work Injury Lawyers are highly regarded for their expertise in helping people across England & Wales in claiming compensation following an injury sustained at work.

We are so confident in being able to secure the financial compensation you and your family deserve that we operate on a no win no fee claim basis. This means that if your claim proves to be unsuccessful and we fail to secure a financial settlement for you, there will be nothing for you to pay.

If you believe that you have the right to make an injury claim, you should call and tell us what has happened today.