What Can We Learn When We Include Member of Public Fatalities?

Neil HartleyHealth & Safety StatisticsLeave a Comment

uk member of public workplace fatalities

In our last post, which focused on the Transportation & Storage sector, we highlighted the number of workplace fatal injuries to members of the public and stated that “if you add in the member of public fatalities [to worker fatalities], Transportation & Storage accounts for by far the most fatalities with 66 in 2017/18, exactly double that of the next worst performing sector (Agriculture, forestry and fishing)”.

How does that change the landscape of fatality rates (by sector) and what can we learn from it?

First of all, the number of fatalities is not a good basis on which to compare sectors. That said, 66 fatalities versus the next worst of 33 is a stark difference, particularly for a sector in which less than 5% of the UK workforce work. However, the numbers of public that use the transportation workplace (bus depots etc.) is staggeringly high compared with other sectors. How many members of the public are wandering around a petrochemical site each day? Not many, if any at all.

Let’s just refresh on the worker fatality rates by sector across the past 4 years:

This is excluding members of the public and the Transportation and Storage sector is just over double the fatality rate of all sectors combined.

In the past 4 years, 445 members of the public have suffered fatal injuries in the workplace with 173 occurring in the Land Transport sector (a sub-sector of Transportation and Storage, total 175 fatalities). Note that these figures no longer include deaths on the railways. Residential Care, Human Health and Social Work activities have been responsible for 115 fatalities out of a total of 149 fatalities in the broad Public Administration sector.

But, how do we make the comparison using fatality rate when we don’t know the numbers of the public who frequent each workplace? We can’t. So, what we did was use the proxy of the total number of workers to get a view on how the fatality rate landscape changes when we add in the number of workplace fatal injuries to member of the public.

What this does show is the move of Transportation and Storage from the 6th ranked sector in terms of worker fatality rates to the 3rd ranked sector when we include members of the public.

Does it matter that we’re not accounting for the numbers of the public who use the various workplaces? Yes and no. It really depends how you want to use the statistics. After all, we regularly see this type of comparative data…

Is the UK really the safest workplace in the EU? Or, do you need to read the small print to see the note that says the UK and Ireland are the only two EU countries that do not include deaths from work-related driving in their fatality statistics?

So long as we present the data honestly and with the context provided then it doesn’t matter overly that there’s an element of ‘oranges and apples’ to it.

In the case of our fatality data including members of the public, the good news for Transportation and Storage companies is that many of the actions they can take to improve the safety of their workers will also have a positive impact on the safety of those members of the public sharing those workplaces. One example would be site inductions and mandating that all workers who use a particular site are aware of and current with the operation of that site before they can commence work. This is particularly true for vehicle operators as the greatest cause of death for the public in Land Transport is being ‘struck by moving vehicle’.

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