HSE Publishes Annual Work-Related Injuries, Ill-health and Enforcement Statistics for 2020/21

HSE Publishes Annual Work-Related Injuries, Ill-health and Enforcement Statistics for 2020/21

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has published statistics that cover work-related ill health, non-fatal workplace injuries and enforcement action taken by HSE, in the 2020/21 period.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. Their role is to prevent work-related death, injury and ill health through regulatory actions that range from influencing behaviours across whole industry sectors through to targeted interventions on individual businesses and enforcement action through Fee For Intervention Charges, Improvement Notices, Prohibition Notices and prosecution through the courts. These activities are supported by globally recognised scientific expertise. (HSE Website http://www.hse.gov.uk).

Key Facts from the report:

Work-related ill health

  • 7 million workers suffering from a work-related ill-health – around half of these were stress, depression or anxiety.
  • 850,000 workers suffering from a new case of work-related ill health in 2020/21.
  • 13,000 deaths each year estimated to be linked to past exposure at work, primarily to chemicals or dust.

Work-related stress, depression or anxiety

  • 822,000 workers suffering from work-related stress, depression or anxiety.
  • 451,000 workers suffering from a new case of work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2020/21.

It’s significant that the number of cases of work-related ill health continues to climb and has risen higher yet again this past year.

Work-related musculoskeletal disorders

  • 470,000 workers suffering from work-related musculoskeletal disorders.
  • 162,000 workers suffering from a new case of work-related musculoskeletal disorder in 2020/21.

Occupational lung disease

  • 12,000 lung disease deaths each year estimated to be linked to past exposures at work.
  • 2,369 Mesothelioma deaths in 2019, with a similar number of lung cancer deaths linked to past exposures to asbestos.
  • 17,000 estimated new cases of breathing or lung problems caused or made worse by work each year on average over the last three years.

Workplace injury

  • 142 workers killed at work in 2020/21.
  • 441,000 workers sustaining a non-fatal injury.
  • 51,211 employee non-fatal injuries reported by employers under RIDDOR in 2020/21.

Coronavirus pandemic

  • 93,000 workers suffering with COVID-19 in 2020/21 which they believe may have been from exposure to coronavirus at work. 52,000 of these worked in the human health and social work sector.
  • 645,000 workers suffering from a work-related illness caused or made worse by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. 70 per cent of these were cases of stress, depression or anxiety.

These two new estimates have been developed and added to the Report this year to measure the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic at work.

HSE Launch Statement

In their statement launching the 2020/21 Statistics Report the HSE’s Chief Executive, Sarah Albon, commented that thee pandemic has affected certain data collection and impacted on assessment of trends, therefore there is no new data on working days lost and the associated economic cost for 2021. It’s not known whether some of the people reporting a coronavirus-related ill health condition would have developed and reported an ill health condition if pre-pandemic working practices had continued. It is therefore not possible to assess the scale of work-related ill health independent of the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

These annual statistics are important to give 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.

HSE have worked differently too in responding to the challenges posed by the pandemic, advising across Government, helping to shape guidance for businesses and implementing the Covid Spot Check programme to ensure workplaces were kept as safe as possible through inspection spot checks.

Of the 1.7 million workers who suffered from a work-related illness (new or long standing) in 2020/21, 800,000 were stress, depression or anxiety, and 28% were musculoskeletal disorders (500,000 workers).

The latest figures on work-related stress reinforce HSE’s previous concerns around the scale of this issue in workplaces. Last month HSE announced the launch of their new Working Minds Campaign, in partnership with a number of key organisations, to help employers make recognising the signs of work-related stress a routine process.

HSE add that they continue 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 and prosecute.

Because of the discontinuity presented by furlough and other impacts on data collection, no statistics on working days lost and the associated economic costs are included in this year’s statistics.


A total of 185 health and safety cases were prosecuted in 2020/21 by HSE which resulted in a conviction, down from 325 the previous year. This could be attributed to disruption in the court system during the pandemic period. The amount taken in fines fell to £26.9 million in 2020/21, although the average fine per case issued was higher compared to 2019/20. Due to COVID-19 the number of enforcement notices issued by Local Authorities is not available for 2020/21. However, HSE issued 2,929 enforcement notices in 2020/21, a decrease of 58% from the previous year.

The number of prosecutions is at an historical low – almost half as many as last year, and a 91% reduction in the last twenty years. There have been fewer than half as many enforcement notices served this past year compared to the previous year.


Copy of the HSE Annual Work-Related Injuries, Ill-health and Enforcement Statistics Report for 2020/21.

Yours sincerely

Dave Joyce
National Health, Safety & Environment Officer

LTB 572/21 – HSE Publishes Annual Work-Related Injuries, Ill-health and Enforcement Statistics for 2020-21


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