construction worker injury

Construction Industry loses 392,000 days to illness and injury in just 3 years

Sep 2019

New research from Direct Line for Business reveals the construction industry suffers from the highest proportion of sick days taken due to accidents at work.

It was reported between 2014 and 2017 workers in total took 4.3 million sick days, with 568,000 being the result of an accident at work.

Employers are losing on average 1.4 million days of workers’ productivity each year due to sickness.

The most common illnesses keeping people off work are stress, depression and anxiety with 12.5 million days lost by more than 526,000 workers in the 2016/17 year alone.

Musculoskeletal disorders, breathing or lung issues, upper limb or neck problems are also common ailments that keep construction workers off work.

construction worker

Sickness in the construction industry

The construction industry lost 392,000 work days between 2014 and 2017 due to employees self-reporting illness caused or made worse by their job. The most common injuries on a building site include slips, trips and falls on the same level, being injured while handling, lifting or carrying, being struck by a moving object and falling from a height.

Between 2012 and 2017 there were 26,196 non-fatal accidents recorded on building sites and 196 fatal accidents, almost half of which (49%) were due to workers falling from a height.

With the non-fatal accidents 84,734 workers recorded injury when handling, lifting or carrying something. 100,392 people were injured following a slip, trip or fall. This just highlights how dangerous it can be working in the construction industry.

When speaking to UK Construction Media, Gail Cartmail, from Unite construction union, said “Each and every one of these accidents will have a profound effect on the worker involved. With regards to the large number of tragic fatal accidents; families will have been left devastated when a loved one went to work one day and never came home again. What this research demonstrates is that far too many employers are playing fast and loose with safety laws, resulting in workers being needlessly injured at work.”

Employers have a duty to secure the safety of their workforce

Under the Considerate Constructors Scheme’s Code of Considerate Practice, employers have a duty to ‘Secure everyone’s safety’ by having systems that care for the safety of the workforce and by having initiatives for continuous safety improvements. Under the ‘Value their Workforce’ clause they also should care for the health and wellbeing of the workforce and provide and maintain high standards of welfare. Ensuring workers are safe at work is an important part of upholding this code, but not only that, by law employers must ensure their workers are safe from any potential risks by undertaking risk assessments.


In the year between 2017/18 HSE statistics found that there were 35 deaths related to falling from heights, a 40% increase from the previous year. Paul Kimpton, Managing Director at the Building Safety Group, commented in an article, “Employers have a legal duty to ensure that the ‘Work at Height Regulations 2005’ are implemented and that all activity is properly supervised and carried out by people who are competent.”

“Critically ‘falls from height’ are still one of the most common causes of injuries to employees, accounting for a large number of work-place deaths. So, employers must of course take their responsibilities very seriously, not least because of the potential harm to workers but also because of the risk to business, as well as the number of working days lost.”

Employers can face serious consequences

Employers can be fined or even convicted when a worker suffers an injury and especially so where a fatality occurs. During 2015/16, 246 construction cases were brought to trial by the Health and Safety Executive for safety failings that resulted in at least one conviction, with 205 of these cases resulting in the employer being issued with a fine. Therefore, injuries in the workplace can be very costly to employers. There is not just the possible cost of a fine, but the continuous cost of having to pay for sick days, and the money lost due to low productivity if workers cannot work to their full ability.

construction worker hurt
Leg and yellow helmet of injured lying worker at work.

Kays Medical can help

Kays Medical can provide Sickness/Absence Case Management as well as Workplace Risk Assessments which can help keep your staff safe at work and allow them to fully recover from any illness or injury should they occur. Absence/illness is inevitable in any workplace and needs to be dealt with in a fair, understanding, sympathetic but clinically objective manner.

We understand the impact absence can have on a workplace due to financial and critical skills lost as well as the negative impact on other members of staff. By providing sickness/absence case management, we can assist an individual with a rapid and safe return to work with maximal functioning capacity and maximum medical recovery, reducing employer costs. We can also assess whether they are still fit for a role following illness or injury.

Kays Medical provide a number of risk assessments which can be beneficial to employers and their staff. Organisational health needs/health risks assessments can assess a workplace for any health risks which may occur whilst working there. It can ensure that the workplace is safe for employees to work in and any health risks are addressed, therefore reducing the chances of employees needing time off due to illness or injury associated with the workplace.

We can also offer New Starter Medical Assessments, Work at Height Medical Assessments, Construction Safety Critical Medicals and Functional Capability Assessments which can all assess whether an individual is fit for a certain role and can undertake the work they are supposed to be doing. This helps ensure that everyone who is working on your site is safe and capable to do so, reducing the chances of injuries from the workplace.

Kays Medical can provide comprehensive advice tailored to suit your needs, contact us today to find out how we can help you save money and keep your staff safe and well.

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