Procurement · 24 October 2017

What are Britain’s deadliest industries to work in?

Factory worker using computer to operate automation, directly above
1,267 people have died while at work in the UK since 2008

In the last ten years, 1,267 UK employees have lost their lives in a workplace. Now, new research has collated a decade’s worth of data to reveal the six deadliest industries for workers in Britain.

Using the data on workplace deaths held by the Health and Safety executive, experts at legal firm First4Lawyers were able to break down which industries had proved most hazardous for employees, and which regions had seen the greatest number of fatalities.

According to the findings, the construction sector is the most dangerous in Britain for workers, with some 382 work-related deaths in the last ten years. The average age of death in the sector was 48 years old.

Elsewhere, even the services industry had proved risky, where 269 deaths have been registered since 2008.

However, in 2017, the agriculture sector has already registered 16 deaths, exceeding any other industry.

The six deadliest industries in Britain

Ranking Industry No. deaths in last ten years
1 Construction 382
2 Service 287
3 Agriculture 269
4 Manufacturing 214
5 Waste/water management 63
6 Extractive/utilities 52

Total: 1,267

In terms of the unluckiest region for accidents, Scotland registered the most with 176 instances. Over a third of those deaths occurred in the agriculture industry, with 61 people losing their lives in the last ten years.

The North East of England was found to be the luckiest part of the UK. Just 39 people have died at work in the region in the last decade due to a workplace accident.

Statistically, utilities workers in Wales could be the safest in their working environment.

Workplace deaths by region in Britain

Ranking Region No. deaths in last ten years
1 Scotland 176
2 North West of England 162
2 Yorkshire and the Humber 162
4 South East of England 131
5 East Midlands 117
6 South West of England 115
7 East Anglia 112
8 West Midlands 106
9 London 91
10 Wales 76


Finally, researchers wanted to find out just how much substance the notion of “Friday 13th” as the unlucky day held in reality. Seemingly, there could be a new day to watch out for.

Unluckiest days of the week

Ranking Day of the month No. deaths in last ten years
1 Tuesday 9 20
2 Sunday 12 18
3 Monday 8 17
4 Tuesday 27 16
5 Wednesday 15 15
6 Friday 13 6


Commenting on the findings, Andrew Cullick, a spokeperson for First4Lawyers, said the drop in workplace deaths experts had predicted in recent years had not materialised.

“It’s quite shocking to see that still to this day workplace accidents are turning into deaths, and construction remains the most dangerous industry, despite so many health and safety regulations being introduced,” Cullick said.

“With working practices constantly being improved, there is no excuse for companies not obeying the law and fulfilling their business obligations.”

Are men at greater risk of workplace injury than women?

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Praseeda Nair is the editorial director of Business Advice, and its sister publication for growing businesses, Real Business. She's an impassioned advocate for women in leadership, and likes to profile business owners, advisors and experts in the field of entrepreneurship and management.