Annual work-related deaths due to accidents increase to 142. Mesothelioma deaths still exceed 2,000

On 7 July 2021 the Health & Safety Executive released provisional data on work-related deaths in England & Wales and Scotland in 2020/21. The data excludes ‘conventional’ occupational diseases as well as excluding COVID-19. Worker fatalities increased from 113 in 2019/20 to 142 in 2020/21 (a 25% increase) although HSE reports that last year “was low compared to other recent years [and] in statistical terms the number of fatalities has remained broadly level in recent years.” It is worth noting that despite this increase, Great Britain remains comfortably within the lower quartile of work-related fatality rates when compared to European countries.

In contrast, work-related fatalities involving members of the public fell from 106 to 60 in 2020/21. HSE points out that this “is statistically significantly lower than in earlier years and almost certainly reflects the lockdown restrictions in place on the British public over the course of the year.”

A separate HSE publication also released this month updates statistics and projections for mesothelioma deaths. An annual count of more than 2,300 deaths from the disease can hardly be described as positive, but HSE records that the total is 7% lower than the average over the last seven years. The total masks a notable difference between the sexes. The observed reduction of 9% in male deaths is “in-line with earlier predictions suggesting that annual mesothelioma deaths would gradually start to reduce by around year 2020.” However, the figure for female deaths (which form slightly more than a sixth of the total) remains similar to earlier years but, once again, is “in-line with earlier predictions suggesting that annual counts during the 2020s would remain at the current level before starting to decline.”

Both HSE publications can be accessed via links in the HSE’s press release of 7 July.


Alistair Kinley, Director of Policy & Government Affairs
alistair.kinley@blmlaw.com

COVID-19 injury claims – emerging trends?

We commented upon the emerging trends in relation to COVID-19 injury claims in December 2020 and noted the surprisingly low number of claims registered with the Compensation Recovery Unit (CRU), based on statistics to mid November 2020. 

From statistics obtained from the Department of Work and Pensions, we can see that the number of claims registered with the CRU remains relatively low, despite the significant number of infections within the UK population over the Winter period.

We can see that the number of claims registered with the CRU – 2/3 of which relate to employers’ liability – gathered some momentum from September 2020, albeit that monthly levels are still low, averaging around 10 new cases per month. The CRU data is broken down by a range of factors in the remainder of this post.

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Business interruption insurance – test case update – judgment expected in December or January

This is a very brief overview of very recent developments and is most definitely not an analysis of the arguments raised earlier this month before the Supreme Court, other than by way of a reminder that:

  1. the competing arguments of the parties – the FCA and the interested insurers – focus on the question of whether or not the range of representative business interruption (BI) wordings provide indemnity for operating losses sustained by policyholders during the first ‘lockdown’ of 2020, and
  2. the decision at first instance examined this by grouping the relevant clauses into three broad types – disease clauses, prevention of access clauses and hybrid clauses – interpreting each in its context, dealing with causation, prevalence of Covid-19, counterfactuals and with the effect on claims adjustment of so-called ‘trends’ clauses.
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