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The Most Dangerous Jobs in the UK

Most of us take for granted that when we leave for work in the morning we will return safely that night. We assume our workplace is safe and we will be free from harm. And thankfully, most of the time this is the case. However, according to statistics from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), 178 people never returned home from work in 2012/13 and a further 78,000 employees were injured. Furthermore, workplace injury and ill-health cost around £13.8 billion in 2010/11.

The industries responsible for the most accidents and injuries are:

• Farming
• Construction
• Manufacturing

So why are these three industries responsible for so many workplace injuries, and what is being done to make each industry safer for workers?


More accidents happen per head of the working population in the agricultural sector than any other industry. Just over 1 in 100 workers (both employees and self-employed) work in agriculture but the industry is responsible for 1 in 5 work-related deaths.

Many injuries in the farming sector go unreported, so it is difficult to gain an accurate picture of how the trauma rates compare over a number of years, however, there has been very little change in the health and safety statistics since the mid-1990s.

The common denominator of these three risky industries is that they all involve large, heavy machinery. However, a farmer also has to deal with unpredictable livestock, dust, vehicles, chemicals, heights, bad weather and strenuous, repetitive work.

The National Farmers Union (NFU) and the HSE are making considerable efforts to try and raise awareness within the farming industry of health and safety best practices. The NFU states that it regularly meets with its members to discuss simple safety strategies such as telling someone your plans for the day, following safe stopping procedures in vehicles, and not cutting corners when working in situations involving heights, livestock and chemicals.


In 2012/13 the construction industry was responsible for 39 deaths. Although this is a high figure, in the previous five years there had been an average of 53 deaths per year, so there has been a significant improvement in fatality rates. However, added to this figure is around 3,700 new diagnosis of (often fatal) cancer each year which can be attributed to past exposure to asbestos, dust and chemicals. The HSE has more detailed industry statistics.

Between 2004 and 2007 a number of health and safety regulations came into force which has aided the improvement of accident statistics, including:

• Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007
• Work at Height Regulations 2005
• Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005
• Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (Amendment) 2004
• Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005

An Approved Code of Practice was also published in 2007 which offers practical guidance to the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations.
These regulations, combined with a greater awareness of health and safety within the industry, have all led to an improvement in the number of serious injuries and fatalities sustained.


There are approximately 2.8 million workers across a wide range of industries employed in manufacturing within the UK. According to the HSE, accident rates have improved over the past two decades with a third less fatalities in 2012/13 than 20 years ago. Food manufacturing had the highest number of recorded injuries within the sectors.

Because the manufacturing industry is so broad, the injuries sustained can range from chemical burns through to knife related accidents. However, back injury is the most common problem sustained, often due to repetitive work being performed in awkward positions and heavy lifting. The HSE and the industry itself produce many publications and offer training on how to prevent back injury when working. You can read more about recovering from a back injury here.