More than 100,000 workers went down with Covid-19 in the past year which they believed they contracted in the workplace, up nearly a third, according to the latest annual statistics from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
A total of 123,000 people suffered from Covid-19 that they suspected was from exposure to coronavirus at work, the HSE said, a 32% increase on last year. The Covid figures are estimates based on self-reports from the Labour Force Survey and of people who worked in the past 12 months, it said.
The data, covering 2022, also concluded that 1.8 million working people suffered from a work-related illness in the 12-month period. Of these, 914,000 were suffering from work-related stress, depression or anxiety. However, one positive was there had been an 17.5% drop in new cases, from 451,000 to 372,000.
In all, 36.8 million working days were lost because of work-related illness and workplace injury, costing the UK economy £18.8bn, the HSE calculated. A total of 123 workers were killed in work-related accidents.
The number of workers sustaining a non-fatal injury increased by 28%, from 441,000 to 565,000.
Stress, depression and anxiety remained the leading cause of work-related ill health, accounting for 51% of all ill-health cases, the HSE said.
Health and safety
A total of 477,000 workers suffered from a work-related musculoskeletal disorder (MSD). MSDs were the second most common cause of ill health, making up 27% of all cases.
However, in terms of actual figures, the number of MSD cases remained broadly flat, increasing marginally from 470,000 to 477,000.
Commenting on the figures, Nick Wilson, director of health and safety services at employment law firm WorkNest, said: “It’s interesting to see that new cases of work-related stress, depression and anxiety have fallen over the past year. This is somewhat surprising, given the various stressors people are facing at present, though, of course, not all of these are work-related.
“Still, this doesn’t change the fact that, overall, cases have increased by 11.2%, and we now know that 17.0 million working days were lost as a result – emphasising that this should remain a key area of focus for employers, not only for their staff’s sake but for the sake of business productivity too,” he added.
Separately, an analysis of workplace accident claims over the past decade by law firm First4Lawyers has indicated that back injuries are the most common work-related injury, with Birmingham revealed as workplace accident capital with a total of 809 injuries.
Interestingly, Sheffield was the only city to see an increase in claims over the last 10 years with an over 10% (10.14%) rise, whereas the other cities have seen a steady decline over the same period.
The firm argued this decline could largely be attributed to the Covid-19 pandemic and the increase in the number of Britons now working from home.