ONS Releases Statistics on COVID-19 Deaths by Occupation

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has published new findings that provide information on which occupations have experienced the most deaths related to COVID-19. The coronavirus pandemic has affected a variety of organisations across many different sectors, but the new figures from the ONS paint a grim picture regarding which organisations and industries have been the most fatal.

This report measured coronavirus-related deaths in England and Wales among people ages 20 to 64 from 9th March 2020 through 28th December 2020. The ONS compiled coronavirus-related death rate statistics for nine major occupational groups, such as ‘elementary occupations,’ and ‘caring, leisure and other service occupations.’ Overall, men had a higher death rate across most of these groups than women.

Among male workers, the occupations with the highest coronavirus-related death rates per 100,000 employees were:

  1. Process plant workers (143.2)
  2. Security guards and related occupations (140)
  3. Restaurant and catering managers and proprietors (119.3)
  4. Care workers and home carers (109.9)
  5. Metalworking and machine operatives (106.1)

The highest death rates per 100,000 female workers included the following professions:

  1. Care workers and home carers (47.1)
  2. Assemblers and routines operatives (39.2)
  3. Social workers (32.4)
  4. National government administrative occupations (27.9)
  5. Sales and retail assistants (26.9)

The ONS noted that some sample sizes within these findings may be too small for the data to be completely conclusive. Still, the figures should serve as a reminder for employers to take all necessary precautions to keep their workers safe as the pandemic continues.

Employers Liability claims examples

Sawmill Company Fined After Worker Fatality

Pontrilas Sawmills Limited has been fined £200,000 and ordered to pay costs of £22,016 after an incident left an employee fatally injured. The fatality occurred on 20th December 2017, when two employees were working below a lift conveyor to remove debris. The machine had been malfunctioning and the conveyor was not descending as intended. As the employees attempted to work on the conveyor, it dropped suddenly. One employee suffered fatal crush injuries, while the other endured bruising and abrasion injuries to their head. An HSE investigation found that Pontrilas had failed to assess the risks of the employees’ tasks or provide a suitable system of work for removing the debris beneath the conveyor. The company pleaded guilty to breaching section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The Hereford Crown Court imposed the aforementioned penalties on 29th January 2021.

Nestle UK Fined After Employee Gets Dragged Into Machine

On 13th January 2021, the Bradford Crown Court issued a £640,000 fine and ordered Nestle UK Limited to pay £26,234 in costs in a ruling that stemmed from an incident on 13th February 2016. During that incident, an employee was dragged into a machine after a cloth that he was holding near a gap in the machine became ensnared. The employee was unable to reach any of the emergency stop buttons from his trapped position and had to be released by paramedics after their eventual arrival. The victim suffered a double compound fracture in his arm and required surgery. An HSE investigation found that Nestle had failed to prevent access to dangerous moving parts of the machine.

Titanium Supplier Fined After Material Falls on Employee

VSMPO Tirus Limited of Redditch was fined £200,000 and ordered to pay costs of £7,293.15 after pleading guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The case stemmed from an accident during which an employee sustained multiple fractures to his leg while operating a metal cutting band saw machine. The employee’s injuries occurred when nearly 1.5 tonnes of titanium fell from the machine and trapped his leg. An HSE investigation found that VSMPO had neglected to properly assess and manage the risk of material falling from the machine bed and did not implement adequate safety measures, such as extending the machine bed or installing stanchions with backstops.

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