In 2022/23 135 workers were killed in work-related accidents in (RIDDOR) and most of these occurred in hazardous jobs in the following 5 industries:

  1. Construction
  2. Farming, agriculture, forestry, fishing
  3. Manufacturing
  4. Wholesale retail, motor repair, accommodation and food
  5. Transport and storage

This article explores the sectors responsible for the most workplace injuries and fatalities, and takes a look at some effective and available safety measures.


Construction broadly covers building work, civil engineering and trades such as roofing, painting and electrical work. Working in construction is consistently recognised as one of the most hazardous jobs in the UK.

Fatal injuries = 45
Source: HSE 2022/23

It is an inherently dangerous industry which consistenly comes top of the HSE table of statistic for fatalitiesand injuries.

What are the main hazards in the construction industry?

  • Hazard: Working at height

Working at heights is common in construction, whether it’s on scaffolding, ladders, or roofs. Falls from height can result in serious injuries or even fatalities. Roof work is particularly perilous, particularly in extreme weather conditions, with falling from height accounting for a quarter of all construction industry deaths.

  • How to control the risk

Working at height training for all workers who use a ladder, stepladder or other platform to work from height.
Workers must be trained in correct usage of fall protection systems; both physical systems such as guardrails and safety nets, and personal fall arrest systems such as harnesses.

  • Hazard: Lifting and moving heavy objects

Manual handling heavy loads can result in musculoskeletal injuries such as strains, sprains, and back injuries.

  • How to control the risk

Workers should be proficient in lifting and moving techniques by attending regular manual handling training.
Mechanical aids used where possible.

  • Hazard: Hazardous substances

The construction industry bears the largest burden of occupational cancer among all sectors, primarily due to exposure to asbestos, silica, and diesel engine exhaust.

  • How to control the risk

Specific measures such as professional handling of asbestos and ensuring safe disposal are essential to prevent asbestos-related risks.
Managing airborne dust involves processes such as exhaust systems, and ensuring thorough cleaning protocols are followed before removing PPE.
Regular COSHH training on handling chemicals safely, along with providing appropriate PPE, is vital.

  • Hazard: Being struck by moving or falling objects

With workers using heavy machinery, tools, and materials, protecting against injury from moving or falling objects is critical in the construction industry.

  • How to control the risk

PPE: hard hats designed to withstand impacts from falling objects, safety glasses to protect against eye injuries from falling debris. steel capped boots.
Use tethers or lanyards to secure tools and equipment to prevent them from falling.
Protective systems such as toeboards, netting and canopies to contain falling objects.
Provide comprehensive training to workers on proper handling, storage, and securing of tools and materials.
Emergency Response: Train workers on emergency response procedures in the event of a falling object incident, including first aid training, reporting protocols, and evacuation procedures.

  • Hazard: Electricity

Construction sites frequently involve electrical installations and machinery, which can lead to electrocution hazards.

  • How to control the risk

Identify and isolate electrical hazards.
Regularly inspect and maintain electrical equipment.
Provide proper training on electrical safety to workers.
Additionally, workers should be trained on how to identify and avoid overhead power lines.

  • Hazard: Noise

Construction sites can be noisy environments due to the use of machinery, power tools, and heavy equipment. Prolonged exposure to high levels of noise can lead to hearing loss and other health issues.

  • How to control the risk

Employers should implement measures to reduce noise levels, such as using quieter equipment or providing workers with hearing protection.

Case study

A company and its director were sentenced after an employee fell from height and suffered serious injuries. AS fractured his left femur, left elbow, left arm and pelvis after falling approximately three metres off an unsecured ladder. The company was found to have breached Work at Height Regulations 2005 by failing provide a proper platform to work on.

Farming, agriculture, forestry and fishing

Also high on the list of most hazardous jobs are those in the agricultural sector. Farming, agriculture, forestry, and fishing have a significant incidence of both fatal and non-fatal injuries.

Fatal injuries = 21
Source: HSE 2022/23

Agricultural involves working with heavy machinery, handling livestock and exposure to chemicals and pesticides, which can lead to accidents and health risks.

Working in remote areas, with limited access to immediate assistance, working long hours, and working in darkness during the winter months all further contribute to the challenges faced by workers in this sector.

What are the main hazards in farming, agriculture, forestry and fishing?

  • Hazard: Heavy equipment and moving vehicles

The use of large machinery and vehicles, particularly tractors, is prevalent in agricultural work. Improper use or maintenance of these machines can lead to accidents and injuries. For example, a worker may get caught in moving parts or get run over by a tractor. These accidents are a leading cause of death in the sector.

  • How to control the risk

Ensuring that all machinery is maintained properly and that operators are trained thoroughly can mitigate these risks.

  • Hazard: Working in a remote location

Working in a remote location means the emergency services can take time to arrives.

  • How to control the risk

First aid training ensures help is nearby even in remote locations.

  • Hazard: Chemical and environmental exposure

Farmers and workers are frequently exposed to pesticides and other hazardous substances. Exposure to these substances can result in skin irritation, respiratory problems, and long-term health issues.

  • How to control the risk

Regular COSHH training on handling chemicals safely, along with providing appropriate PPE such as glovesand masks, is vital.

  • Hazard: Livestock

Working with livestock poses risks of injuries from kicks, bites, or being pinned between animals and structures.

Additionally, workers may be exposed to zoonotic diseases, which can transfer from animals to humans.

  • How to control the risk

Properly designed and maintained handling facilities, along with training in animal behaviour and safe handling practices, are essential to prevent accidents.

Case study

In a recent example, a farming business was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay £4,830 in costs after breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc. act 1974.

During an inspection, the following failures were identified:

  • A barn roof was insecurely fixed and held in place by a hay bale
  • Another barn was in urgent need of repair to make it safe
  • Pens holding livestock were rusty and broken leading to a bull escaping, and furthermore there were numerous electrical faults

These failings put employees and visitors at risk.


Fatal injuries = 15
Source: HSE 2022/23

The manufacturing sector, while not topping the list of the most dangerous industries, still accounts for a significant number of workplace incidents, highlighting the importance of rigorous health and safety measures. The interaction with heavy machinery, hazardous materials, and complex processes in a noisy environment poses serious risks to people working in this sector.

What are the main hazards in the manufacturing industry?

  • Hazard: Working at height, uneven or slippery surfaces

Elevated work surfaces, cluttered walkways and uneven or slippery surfaces pose a risk of slips, trips and falls for manufacturing workers.

  • How to control the risk

Proper working at height training is essential for all employees who may be exposed to such risks. This includes training on the proper use of equipment, recognizing hazards, and understanding safety procedures.

Good housekeeping: keeping floors clear of clutter, cleaning up spills immediately and keeping walkways clear will all reduce the risk of a worker tripping, slipping or falling.

  • Hazard: Fire and explosion

Manufacturing processes involving flammable materials, combustible dust, or pressurized gases present the risk of fire and explosion incidents. Inadequate fire prevention measures, improper storage of flammable materials, and equipment malfunction can lead to catastrophic events with severe consequences for workers and facilities.

  • How to control the risk

Fire safety training for all employees to teach them howto minimise the risk of fires such as how to recognise fire risks, how to correctly store flammable materials, and how to respond to fire emergencies.

Case study

An alloy wheel refurbishment company in Hemel Hempstead was fined £80,000 for multiple health and safety failings.

An HSE inspection visit found the owners had failed to provide adequate ventilation by means of local exhaust ventilation (LEV), PPE, and information, instruction and training.

Wholesale and retail, motor repair, accommodation and food

Fatal injuries = 15
Source: HSE 2022/23

HSE defines Wholesale and Retail Motor Repair, Accommodation and Food as an industry group and working in this group, specifically in a vehicle repair workshop is actually one of the most hazardous jobs in the UK.

What are the main hazards in wholesale and retail, motor repair, accomodation and food?

  • Hazard: Falls

Falls are a common cause of fatalities and serious injuries in a vehicle repair workshop.

  • How to control the risk

Ladders, platforms, scaffolding and steps should be inspected by a competent person on a regular basis. Where equipment is deemed unsafe, it must be removed from service.

Training should be given to all workers required to work at height

Employers should also provide suitable equipment to allow people to work at height safely, such as PPE and fall arrest systems (harnesses etc)

  • Hazard: Accidents through manual handling

The lifting and carrying of heavy loads can lead to accidents and injury particularly if the appropriate precautionary steps aren’t taken.

  • How to control the risk

Manual handling training is essential for all staff who lift and move loads at work. Training should ensure your staff can lift and carry correctly, and carry out an on-the spot risk assessment (known as TILE).

Where possible, mechanical aids such as trolley and hoists should be provided and used.

Encourage staff to ask for help to move heavy, bulky and/or awkward objects.

  • Hazard: Slips and trips

Warehouses or distribution centres can have a lot of foot traffic and various obstacles on the floor, such as spills, loose wires, or uneven surfaces. These can result in slips, trips, and falls if not properly managed.

  • How to control the risk

Encourage staff to put tools away immediately after they have finished using them. THis heps keep walkways clear and obstacle-free.

Clear oil spillages immediately and always keep floors clean and dry. Non-slip flooring and suitable footwear are essential to further reduce the risk of slips and trips.

  • Hazard: Dangerous equipment

Wholesale operations may involve the use of machinery and equipment such as forklifts, pallet jacks, and conveyor belts.

  • How to control the risk

Ensure staff are always trained on safe use of any equipment they need to use. Employers must also make sure proper supervision is always maintained

Lifting equipment should be regularly inspected by a competent person.

Safe working loads (SWL) should be clearly displayed on all equipment, this SWL must never be exceeded

  • Hazard: Flammable materials

Wholesale environments often contain flammable materials such as packaging materials, fuels, or chemicals. Their mishandling or misuse is often the cause of a fire or explosion.

  • How to control the risk

A fire risk assessment of your workplace will identify potential hazards, escape routes and vulnerable areas.

Provide fire safety training to all employees. This should cover fire prevention measures including proper storage and handling of flammable materials and fire detection.

  • Hazard: Substances hazardous to health

Depending on the type of products being handled, workers in wholesale may be exposed to hazardous substances such as chemicals, fumes, or biological agents.

  • How to control the risk

Proper handling procedures, PPE and COSHH training are essential to mitigate these risks.

Case study

CO who worked a sales assistant at a well known chemist store, was injured in a trip and fall accident at work.

On the day of the accident in July 2019, CO was working behind the tills. She and one other colleague were at a row of five tills. Shopping baskets were stored behind the tills in metal stands on wheels. The area was untidy, with several obstacles. When CO went to retrieve shopping bags from another till she caught her foot underneath the wheel of a basket stand, which caused her to stumble. She then lost her footing and began falling to the floor. As she fell, she injured a finger on her right hand and her left shoulder on nearby fittings, and her head struck the ground.

Later, when CO had finished her shift and returned home, she began to suffer pain in her head and she was advised to go to hospital where she was diagnosed with concussion. A few days later she began to suffer pains in her neck and shoulder. She attended her GPs surgery and was referred to Hairmyres Hospital for an MRI scan. She was diagnosed with soft-tissue injuries and prescribed pain killers.

Several weeks later she began to experience lower back pain which was investigated by her GP who confirmed that she had suffered a closed minor head injury, bruising to her left knee, muscle strain to her neck and a cut to her ring finger. The medical expert recommended a medical report from an expert in hearing loss/tinnitus who confirmed that there was a worsening of her tinnitus for a few months.

CO was awarded £4,575 compensation.

Transport and storage

Fatal injuries = 15
Source: HSE 2022/23

Transport-related occupations rank among the most hazardous jobs due to high rates of fatal and non-fatal injuries.

What are the main hazards in the transport and storage industry?

  • Hazard: Long hours

Workers in the transport industry spend long hours driving, often alone, making them vulnerable to traffic accidents due to fatigue and decreased alertness.

  • How to control the risk

Adhere to legal regulations which are designed to prevent driver exhaustion, reduce accidents, and maintain the efficiency of goods transportation. Regulations include rules ondriving hours, rest breaks, and maximum consecutive driving periods.

  • Hazard: Loading and unloading goods

Loading and unloading goods further elevates the risk, leading to accidents such as crush injuries, manual handling injuries and falls from height.

  • How to control the risk

A comprehensive training program should include working at height training and manual handling training.

Case study

A delivery driver suffered a manual handling injury when he was carrying a heavy fridge freezer down some narrow steps with the help of an untrained co-worker.

The untrained worker let go of the item thus leaving the driver to bear the full weight of the load. With the considerable weight of the unit resting on him, he was pushed down the steps and badly injured. Luckily he was able to get out of the way of the fridge freezer before it landed at the bottom of the stairs.

His employer was ordered to pay £5,600 in compensation in settlement of his injuries.


Despite the inherent risks embedded within the most hazardous jobs, concerted efforts are underway to bolster health and safety standards across industries.

Understanding the risk factors, implementing health and safety regulations, and prioritising worker safety are essential in mitigating these risks.

Employers must play a crucial role in ensuring the safety of their employees. Providing appropriate training, PPE, and a safe working environment at all times helps to mitigate hazards and safeguard workers’ well-being.

To learn more about workplace safety and the measures you can take to protect yourself in hazardous job roles, visit our website or contact us today

Published On: April 30th, 2024