The Workplace Safety Index

The rate of accident and injury in the workplace is gradually slowing down YoY, yet there are still areas of great concern for businesses moving forward. Notably, we can reveal that an astonishing 37% of workers have had an accident at work, likely contributed to by one-in-ten Brits never being given safety training. All factors considered, the average UK employee rates their workplace just 7.5/10 for safety. 

Naturally, there are also incidents that go unaddressed, and only a third (34%) of Brits feel comfortable filing an accident report. Subsequently, nearly a quarter (23%) are hesitant to file a report for fear of taking time off work, 22% worry about getting in trouble, and one-in-five are anxious about completing paperwork.  

In terms of COVID era concerns, just 37% of Brits believe their employer takes social distancing seriously and 39% have felt unsafe at work during the pandemic. Meanwhile, only half (52%) of UK employees have been distributed sufficient workplace personal protective equipment (PPE) to combat the pandemic.  

But how do workers from each British industry and sector stand on the matter of safety? 

Agriculture  

With a safety score of just 6.6 out of 10, Brits consider agriculture to be the most dangerous industry. Supporting this notion, well over half (59%) of the sector’s employee base has experienced accident or injury while on the farm. Workplace machinery is the largest concern for farmers fearing a farm accident, given a safety score of just 5.4, while stability of flooring and building conditions score 6 and 6.4, respectively.  

Astonishingly, despite outside working being par for the course, just over one-in-ten (15%) agriculture workers feel social distancing has been taken seriously during the ongoing pandemic, while PPE distribution scored just 6.6. 

Healthcare 

Despite being more impacted than most during the pandemic, healthcare professionals don’t believe their industry (7.9) has distributed PPE as well as hospitality workers (8.1) do theirs. Addressing another COVID concern, over half (53%) of hospital staff believe social distancing has been all but ignored.

In terms of practical danger, intricate medical machinery (7.5) ranks among the safest of UK workplace equipment, while the standard of flooring (7.8) and infrastructure (8) is also high performing. Incredibly, despite ranking reasonably for overall safety (7.5), a third (34%) of healthcare workers have experienced an accident or injury on the job.  

Hospitality  

The staggering statistic to come out of the hospitality industry is just how many workers (42%) have injured themselves while performing their role, despite the industry being perceived to be among the safest (7.6). Similarly, the overall condition of machinery (7.7), flooring (8), and infrastructure (8.2) is also thought of as relatively safe. 

Despite the efficient distribution of PPE (8.1), hospitality workers are a little hung up on how seriously their employers have taken social distancing, with 61% believing more could be done to tackle COVID. 

Office work 

There’s no safer place to work than the office, according to our research, as just 16% of nine-to-fivers have experienced an accident at their desk. Similarly, the office is perceived to be one of the least dangerous places to work (7.6), bettered only by the classroom (7.8). 

Focussing on the environment’s specifics, no other workplace features safer equipment (7.7), while overall flooring (8) and infrastructure (8.2) are also among the UK’s best-in-class. Meanwhile, however, office workers are well within their rights to have COVID concerns, with PPE distribution (7.5) far from the standard set by hospitality, and over half of staff (54%) believing management should take social distance rules more seriously.  

Public service 

Despite a third (36%) of public servants suffering an accident at work at some point in their career, the industry has a slightly above-average perceived safety value (7.4). Addressing the day-to-day, equipment and relevant machinery (7.4) ranks similarly, while the perception of flooring (7.8) and infrastructure (7.6) follows a similar pattern. 

COVID-wise, public servants are a little concerned, with less than half (42%) of sector workers feeling their employer treats social distancing seriously. However, they can take some comfort in PPE distribution across the industry being ranked as reasonably efficient (7.7). 

Retail 

As far as retail workers are concerned, their job is among the least safe in the country (7.3), with just warehousing (7) and agriculture (6.6) worse off. And with 40% of the industry’s workforce having experienced an instance of injury at some point, there’s little room for argument.  

Importantly, equipment is considered far from safe (7), with, again, only warehouse (6.9) and agriculture machinery (5.4) ranked more dangerous. Meanwhile, though, the state of flooring (7.6) and infrastructure (7.7) each rank a little more impressively.  

Looking at the contemporary issue of COVID compliance, only a third (35%) of employees feel social distancing is taken seriously, while PPE distribution (7.5) has thus far been relatively underwhelming. 

Education  

Designed as an area of wellbeing for children of all ages, you’d expect nothing less than exceptional safety in the classroom (7.8), so it’s no surprise it tops our index as the most highly thought of workplace for safety. Classroom flooring (8) also tops the charts, joint with that of offices and restaurants. Meanwhile, equipment and apparatus scores slightly lower (7.4). Strikingly, however, a third (32%) of teachers have admitted to experiencing an accident or injury during their career. 

When it comes to COVID, the classroom has been hit as hard as any other workplace, but PPE distribution in schools (7.2) is among the worst of any sector. Similarly, 62% of teachers feel social distancing hasn’t been enforced sufficiently, although the practical application could be tricky given the energetic and lively nature of children. 

Transport and logistics 

Due to the vehicular nature of the job, it’s unsurprising that transport workers consider their day-to-day machinery among the least safe of all industries (7), behind only warehousing (6.9) and agriculture (5.4).  

Despite the overall condition of flooring (7.5) and infrastructure (7.8) perceived to be slightly better, the working environment (7.3) is perceived to be marginally more dangerous than the average industry, supported by an astonishing 46% of employees suffering injury on the job.  

In relation to COVID safety concerns, workers are generally satisfied with the distribution of PPE (7.8), although just 34% feel their boss or manager has taken social distancing seriously throughout the pandemic.  

Warehousing 

Warehousing is widely regarded as one of the more dangerous industries (7), with agriculture (6.6) the only sector considered less safe. Focussing on the practicalities of the job, warehouse machinery such as forklift trucks are far from fool proof (6.9), while flooring (7.3) and infrastructure (7.6) also rank among the least safe across all sectors.  

COVID-wise, things don’t improve, either; warehouse management is up there with the worst for enforcing social distancing, with just 34% of the employee base happy with their efforts, and PPE distribution (7.5) is simply average compared to most other industries.  

However, despite worker sentiment all pointing in one direction, the reality is that only 30% of staff have experienced an accident or injury at work, which ranks the warehouse as safer than all workplaces but the office. 

Compiling workplace data from real employees, we’ve managed to reveal which UK industries are the safest, and which are, indeed, the most dangerous for workplace accidents. For even more expert debate and advice around the subject of workplace safety, enjoy exploring the latest on our blog