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£823 million lost to work related ill-health and injury in transportation and storage industries

Blogs | 1st Dec 2022
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The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has released its annual work-related health and safety statistics for Great Britain for 2021/2022. These show that the estimated economic cost of ill-health and injuries related to transportation and storage workplaces is £823 million.

According to the report, 1.8 million working people are suffering from a work-related illness. In transportation and storage, there are 49,000 work-related ill health cases. This represents around 3.1% of workers in the sector. However, this is lower than the rate for workers across all industries (3.5%).

For the first time, the statistics from the transportation and storage industry category has been subdivided. This will make it easier to see key statistics for specific sectors. Including warehousing, road haulage, and ports.

For instance, the latest report shows that those in warehousing and road haulage had among the lowest rates of work-related ill health in transportation and storage (2.7% and 2.6% respectively).

Mental health in the workplace

In total, an estimated 17 million working days were lost due to work-related stress, depression, or anxiety in 2021/22. This is over half of all working days lost due to work-related ill health across all industries.

In transportation and storage, stress, depression, and anxiety are the leading causes of work-related ill health (41%). With an estimated 20,000 self-reported cases, the rate has increased from the previous period. Though this level (1% of workers in the sector) is still much lower than the all industry rate (1.6%).

However, overall, these figures are not statistically significantly different from the previous period, which included time affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

What can be done?

As an industry, we need to take mental health seriously. It has a significant impact on the individual, and on the business.

There are different ways employers can easily improve the way they manage this issue. For example, employers could consider appointing mental health first aiders.

In road transport, LGV Assessors can also play a helpful role in monitoring and addressing mental health concerns. Mental health (and other health topics) can also be covered during Driver CPC Periodic Training.

Musculoskeletal disorders still pain the sector

Across the whole British workforce, there are 477,000 workers suffering from a work-related musculoskeletal disorder.

In transportation and storage, musculoskeletal disorders (36%) are the second most prominent cause of ill health. Around 17,000 cases were reported. Around 1.4% of workers in road haulage and warehousing workers suffered from musculoskeletal disorders, significantly higher than the all industries rate (1.2%).

What can be done?

Risk assessments around any type of handling are key. But so is training in the correct practices around manual handling. Especially so for any worker who lifts, pushes, or pulls during their work. There are simple techniques that can be employed to minimise risk.

Delivering manual handling training specifically designed for transport, warehousing, and logistics operations will also help improve effectiveness. For convenience, this training is now available from RTITB as an eLearning option.

Moving vehicles cause fatalities

There were 16 fatal injuries in the transportation and storage sector in the latest report period. This is an increase from 14 in the previous report. The fatal injury rate of 0.9 per 100,000 workers is around twice the all industry rate. However, it is statistically similar to pre-coronavirus levels.

The leading cause in the transportation and storage industries was being struck by a moving vehicle (34%). This shows that improvements to operator and driver training are still needed to improve safety in many operations.

What can be done?

Lift truck operators and LGV/HGV drivers need to receive the relevant training. As do any pedestrians working in the vicinity of moving vehicles. The correct supervision can also play a significant role.

Incidents can also occur because of inadequate supervision. Managers and Supervisors in materials handling operations may benefit from training, such as this Forklift Manager eLearning course.

Non-fatal injury rates are not improving

There were around 31,000 workers who sustained a non-fatal injury at work in transportation and storage. This is similar to the previous reported period. Prior to the pandemic, there had been a downward trend. But these improvements appear to have halted.

Around 2.1% of workers in transportation and storage sustained an injury, significantly more than the all industries rate (1.7%). Road haulage (2.6%) and warehousing (2.5%) were among the most affected sub-sectors. 25% of these cases resulted in an absence from work of more than 7 days.

The key cause of non-fatal injuries was slips, trips, and falls (32%). Then injuries from handling, lifting, or carrying (23%). These have been the leading causes in transportation and storage over the past three years.

What can be done?

The fact that the rate of non-fatal injuries is not improving shows that change is needed. Training around manual handling is essential. As is correct management and supervision, to ensure standards are upheld.

Better workplace transport operational processes may also be needed to reduce risk. An impartial audit may help. We also support RTITB accredited partners with regular Workplace Transport Operations HealthChecks as standard.

It’s time to take action!

The latest figures do not indicate a severe decline in any area within transportation and storage. Yet any of these cases of work-related injury or ill-health may be avoidable.

Across all industries, 36.8 million working days have been lost due to work-related illness and workplace injury. This is at an estimated cost of £18.8 billion and of course the statistics do not account for all the unreported incidents that happen every day. There are widespread economic hardship and varying skills shortages. So, transportation and storage employers need to take action to reduce the impact that ill-health and injury can have on the industry.

A good first step is training. And that applies to drivers, operators, instructors, managers, and supervisors.

Speak to our friendly team about how to improve safety, standards, and compliance in your road transport or materials handling operation now.