The news media, (TV, Radio, Newspapers and News websites), regularly report work-related accidents, especially those which end in a fatality. However, the number of fatalities at work caused by accidents is very small compared to the number of fatalities caused by exposure to asbestos at work.
Just over 200 people died least year in work related accidents
In 2021-22 123 employees were killed in work related accidents around the UK. In addition 80 members of the public were killed while visiting a workplace. The most dangerous occupation was working at height.
More than 10 times as many people died from mesothelioma, and more than 35 times as many died from all asbestos related diseases put together
In the same year at least 2,544 people died from mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos at work. This was above the average for the previous eight years (2,523). So the number of fatalities from this one asbestos related disease is going up, not down as previously thought. More than twice as many people die each year from other asbestos related diseases that they contracted at work.
So why don’t we hear more about this in the media?
There are three reasons. Unlike accidents,
- These people don’t die or fall seriously ill while they are at work but often longer after they did the job which has caused their injury.
- Many, but by no means all, of the people affected have retired from work. And when it makes these calculations, the Health and Safety Executive doesn’t even count people who have been retired for a long time. It only counts those who have recently retired.
- These illnesses develop gradually, although in the case of mesothelioma there can sometimes be a relatively short time between the onset of symptoms and the person passing away.
You can find the Health & Safety Executive’s news release here.