UK workplace death report latest data 2008-2018: These are the DEADLIEST jobs in the UK

Workplace mortality rates header

Workplace Health and Safety Training is more important than ever with workplace deaths continuing to occur with very little decline. 

Because of this, we at CE Safety have analysed workplace death data between 2008-2018 to discover which industry is the deadliest industry to work in and why this is still occurring.


  • The analysis reveals 1526 people have died at work since 2008
  • Construction is the deadliest industry with a total of 451 reported deaths
  • Forget Friday 13th – Tuesday 8th is the deadliest date
  • Scottish highlands reports the most workplace deaths in the whole country – and killed by cattle is the main cause 

Construction workers dangerous

When carving out a career, mortality rates aren’t usually the first thing that springs to mind before deciding whether to enter a specific industry – but there are a number of extremely hazardous sectors where employees unknowingly put themselves at risk every day.

Hundreds of people are rushed into hospital every year with fatal injuries, many resulting in sudden death from accidents happening whilst at work. 

We’ve conducted a deep dive into Health and Safety Executive (HSE) workplace death data from the past 10 years (2008-2018) to find out why workplace deaths are still commonplace. Our report identifies the high-risk and deadliest industries, where in the country the most workplace deaths occur and what employees in these sectors can do to help them stay safe. 

According to our analysis, 1526 have died at work and annual figures remain fairly consistent each year, despite the Health and Safety at Work Act been introduced in 1974 and many first aid at work training courses on offer. 

Which are the deadliest industries?

When breaking the data down by industry, construction is revealed as the deadliest industry, with 451 people dying in the last 10 years. That’s an average of 45 people every year, higher than any other industry. Builders, roofers, and scaffolders all sit within this category – those that often work at height. 

deadliest industries by workplace mortality rates

Out of the 1526 people killed at work every year, 329 of those occur within the services which include police, fire fighters, and armed forces. Following that, 300 people die within agriculture too. Working with cattle and agricultural machinery can also be extremely dangerous. Our results show that 36 deaths were the result of being struck, trampled on or coming into contact with cattle, whilst 31 deaths were causes by freak accidents when operating machinery.

Friday 13th isn’t as deadly as you think…Tuesday 8th is the date to be extra cautious

forget friday 13th, tuesday 8th is the deadliest date

The report looks at specific times of the year when workplace deaths spike and find that if there’s a specific day when most deaths have happened. 373 people have died on a Tuesday in the UK and 84 workplace deaths occurred on the 8th of the month. Making Tuesday 8th the most deadly date of all.  Whereas 327 people died on a Friday and 80 on the 13th.  

When examining the dates with the highest mortality rates, the deadliest year over the last 10 years was 2011, in which 174 workplace deaths were recorded.

Annual workplace death counts

The year with the lowest workplace death count was 

But with proper health and safety legislation still in place, why are people still dying at work?

What is the biggest cause of workplace deaths? 

When looking at the biggest causes of workplace deaths, being hit by heavy objects such as concrete blocks, cars and forklift trucks are most common, followed by contact with deadly objects including chainsaws. However, falling from height is a common cause of death within construction but other industries as well killing 130 people in total.

When analysing the data, it became apparent that out of 1526 individual death reports, 440 were struck by an object 130 of these occurred as a result of falling from a great height, equalling 19.95% of all deaths.

  • Struck by object (440 deaths)
  • Contact with a deadly objects/work tools (178 deaths)
  • Falling from great height (130 deaths)
  • Poisoning (36 deaths)
  • Explosions (30 deaths)

Some of the deaths included in this report are freak accidents, such as deaths caused by being struck by, trampled on or hit by cattle, which has led to 36 deaths overall.


What is the average age of workplace deaths?

When analysing the data, we found that the average age of all workplace deaths, across all locations and industries over the last 10 years, is 48 years old. 

We decided to break this down further to find out the average age of workplace deaths within in each industry.

  1. Agriculture – 55 years-old
  2. Construction – 45 years-old
  3. Extractive/Utilities – 49 years-old
  4. Manufacturing – 46 years-old
  5. Service – 47 years-old
  6. Water/Waste Management – 43 years-old

Results show that the average age of death within the Agricultural industry is 55 years old, whilst the average age of those who had died whilst at work in a Water/Waste Management setting, was 43 years old.

Where do most deaths happen? 

When examining the locations with highest workplace death rates, The highlands came out on top, with Cornwall, Sheffield and Birmingham following and appearing in the top five. 

  1. Highland UA – 38 deaths 

(of which, 21 were within the Agriculture industry)

  1. Glasgow  – 35 deaths 

(of which, 14 were within the Agriculture industry)

  1. Aberdeenshire – 32 deaths 

(of which, 17 were within the Agriculture industry)

  1. Cornwall – 32 deaths

(of which, 19 were within the Agriculture industry)

  1. Birmingham – 30 deaths 

(of which, 8 were within the Waste industry)

  1. Sheffield – 29 deaths

(of which, 12 were within the Agriculture industry)

  1. Cheshire – 25 deaths 

(of which, 10 were within the Construction industry)

  1. Shropshire – 25 deaths 

(of which, 8 were within the Construction industry)

  1. Leeds  – 22 deaths 

(of which, 9 were within the Service industry)

  1.  Manchester – 19 deaths 

     (of which, 8 were within the Construction industry)

When grouping these together, it seems the UK’s most dangerous jobs are in Scotland featuring in the top 3.

What are the average salaries of the deadliest industries? 

1. Service – £26,548

Police – £31,032

Fireman – £24,455

Soldier – £25,424

2.  Agriculture – £31,291

Farm Manager: £25,669
Farm Worker: £19,052
Agricultural Technician: £19,442

3. Water / waste management -£24,024

Waste Operative: £22,492

Waste Management: £29,000

Recycling Operative: £20,582

4. Manufacturing – £33,906

Manufacturing Engineer: £32,600

Machine Operator: £20,536

Warehouse Operative: £18,579 

5. Construction – £41,343

Building Site Manager: £47,500
Builder: £42,500
Scaffolder: £42,500
Brick Layer: £36,678

When looking into salaries, these jobs pay just above the UK national average – according to a recent report in The Guardian, average national salaries were at £28,677 in 2018. These sectors included in the report should be paying their employees a form of compensation due to the hazardous nature of the jobs – but most sectors don’t, as it’s currently not been enforced.

Service industries comprise of some of the most high-risk day to day working activities and yet this sector pays the least. Construction is the most dangerous industry and pays the most on average.

What is hazard pay, and when are you eligible for it? 

Hazard pay is an extra form of financial compensation given to employees for performing duties that are considered dangerous. Surprisingly, there is no law in place for hazard pay and it’s currently given at employers’ discretion – with many companies opting not to pay it. 

Hazard pay is typically an increased hourly pay rate which is often paid as a premium. For example, an employer may agree to pay a percentage increase when an employee works under hazardous conditions. The percentage increase is then payable for the hours the employee is under these conditions.

There is no legal definition of a hazardous condition, but some examples include: 

  • Working in extreme weather including hot conditions 
  • Jobs that require the operating of heavy machinery 
  • Handling heavy-duty equipment 
  • Jobs that require employees to work long hours including night shifts 
  • Working from heights  

You can find a list of the worst jobs to have during a heatwave and the laws on working in heat here

How to stay safe in high-risk industries  

Employers are ultimately responsible for the safety of their employees, but there are also a number of things employees can do to keep themselves safe:

  • Ensure appropriate protective gear is own when employees are working 
  • Ensure employees have appropriate health and safety training 
  • Inspect tools and equipment regularly to ensure they’re compliant with industry standards 
  • Display hazard signs clearly 
  • Regularly review your risk assessment 

What are the business benefits to health and safety? 

Good practice in workplace health and safety is the key to building a safe haven for your employees. As well as protecting your workers from suffering accidents, it also protects them from ill-health. Here are other benefits of having a sound health and safety practice in place. 

  • Reduce absences and sick leave 
  • Boosts productivity and company profits 
  • Maintain your company’s reputation 
  • Reduce legal costs and insurance premiums.