HSE publishes work-related illness and injury statistics for 2021


The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has published its annual Health and Safety Statistics, outlining statistics of illness, injury and deaths in the UK linked to the workplace in the period of 2020-2021.

  • 1.7 million workers suffered from a work-related illness
  • 12,000 workplace deaths (out of a total of 13,000) were caused by lung disease linked to past exposure at work
  • 93,000 workers self-reported catching COVID at work; over half of whom worked in the health & social work sector


Despite the pandemic having an unprecedented impact on health in the workplace, past exposure to respiratory hazards continued to account for the vast majority of work-related deaths – some 12,000 of the 13,000 total annual deaths being caused by lung disease linked to past exposures at work.

With improved awareness and standards regarding respiratory protection in the workplace, it’s expected that the number of these deaths will likely reduce over the next 10 years. Continuing to be vigilant with wearing adequate and suitable RPE is the only way however, that we can eliminate this cause of unnecessary deaths altogether.


Given the high infection rate of the pandemic, only 93,00 workers self-reported themselves as having been infected from exposure at work – of which around 50% worked in the health & social work sector.

Due to COVID being widely prevalent in the community, identifying where infection took place can be difficult, and it’s likely that this may have somewhat impacted the true numbers behind the stats.


Speaking on the report to HSM Search News, the HSE’s chief executive, Sarah Albon commented, “These annual statistics are important to give us a clear picture of the health and safety risks faced by workers in the Great Britain and help to inform the measures HSE, employers, policy-makers and workers themselves need to take to ensure everyone can go home from work safe and well.

“The 12-month period in question coincides with the first national lockdown and the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic. There have been significant impacts on the labour market, which is reflected in our reporting.

“We worked differently too in responding to the challenges posed by the pandemic, advising across Government, helping to shape guidance for businesses and implementing our Covid Spot Check programme to ensure workplaces were kept as safe as possible.”

“The HSE continues to act as a proportionate and enabling regulator taking the most appropriate actions to achieve the best and quickest result. However, where employers fall short of expected standards, HSE will not hesitate to hold those responsible to account.”