21 Dec 2020

Cost of workplace injury and ill health

HSE statistics show that each year, over a million workers are injured or made ill by their work in Great Britain. This can have serious effects on these individuals and their families, as well as employers, government and wider society. The impacts can be measured in terms of ‘human’ costs (the impact on the individual’s quality of life and, for fatal injuries, loss of life), and ‘financial’ costs, such as loss of production and healthcare costs. HSE’s estimate of the total costs of workplace injuries and ill health includes both financial costs and a valuation of human costs.

The latest estimates show that annually between 2017/18 and 2019/20 an average of 610,000 workers were injured in workplace accidents and a further 559,000 workers suffered a new case of ill health which they believe to be caused or made worse by their work. The cost estimates (for 2018/2019) include only new cases of work-related ill health and self-reported injuries, and exclude pre-existing cases, to represent the costs arising from current working conditions.

Cost of workplace injury and ill health 2018/19The total costs of workplace self-reported injuries and ill health in 2018/19 was £16.2 billion. Ill health causes the biggest proportion of total costs at around 66% (£10.6 billion), with injury resulting in around 34% of total costs (£5.6 billion).

Ill health contributes to a greater proportion of total costs, despite injuries accounting for a greater proportion of cases, as ill health cases result in more time off work on average, which drives higher costs.

Cost of workplace injury
  • Individual costs are £9.6 bn.
  • Costs to the employer are £3.2 bn. Costs to the Government are £3.5 bn.
  • The majority of costs fall on individuals, driven by human costs, while employers and government/taxpayers bear a similar proportion of the remaining costs of workplace injury and ill health.
Health and Safety Costs to the employer

Total costs fell by approximately 17% between 2004/05 and 2009/10, driven by a reduction in the number of workplace injuries. Since then, total annual costs have been broadly level.

Ill health costs have been broadly level over the period.