Levels of stress and mental health problems among UK workers are at a 17-year high according to the latest injury and ill health statistics published by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
Cases of work-related stress, depression or anxiety rose by 13% to 1,800 per 100,000 workers between April 2017-18, for a total of 44% of all work-related health conditions. In the previous year, mental health became the most common work-related illness for the first time, overtaking musculoskeletal disorders.
The amount of working days lost to stress, depression and anxiety increased by 23% to 15.4 million – an average of 25.8 days per case.
Although the number of overall stress cases increased in 2017-18, the number of new cases remained similar to 2017-18, suggesting that workers dealing with mental illness or stress are taking more time to recover.
Higher rates of stress and mental health problems were observed in occupations such as nursing, teaching and welfare, while tradesmen and plant/machinery operators had lower rates. Women aged 25-54 also experienced higher levels of work-related stress, anxiety and depression then men.
Musculoskeletal disorders accounted for 35% of all work-related health conditions in 2017-18, or 469,000 instances. In 2016-17 there were 507,000 cases, and 539,000 in 2016-16. The number of work-related MSDs has continued to fall since the year 2000.
Other key figures for 2017-18:
- 1.4 million working people suffering from a work-related illness
- 2,595 mesothelioma deaths due to past asbestos exposures (2016)
- 144 workers killed at work
- 555,000 injuries occurred at work according to the Labour Force Survey
- 71,062 injuries to employees reported under RIDDOR
- 30.7 million working days lost due to work-related illness and workplace injury
- £15 billion estimated cost of injuries and ill health from current working conditions (2016/17)
Average fines have also increased since new sentencing guidelines came into effect, increasing from £29,000 in 2014-15, to £58,000 in 2015-16, to £147,000 in the last 2 months.
HSE Chair Martin Temple said the figures should serve as a reminder to the importance of manage risk and undertaking good health and safety practice in the workplace.
“Great Britain’s health and safety record is something we should all be proud of, but there is still much to be done to ensure that every worker goes home at the end of their working day safe and healthy.”
“Collectively we must take responsibility to prevent these incidents that still affect too many lives every year and continue to play a part in Helping Great Britain work well.”