Arinite Blog


Fatal Injuries Vs Salary – Does Taking Higher Risks At Work Pay Off?

Category: Health & Safety | Bryan Richards Twitter | Published on: Aug 22, 2017 | Updated: Aug 22, 2017 Read more: Health & Safety

risks at workWhen choosing a career path, health and safety conditions at work should be taken into consideration by the employee to assure a long and secure career. Whilst some jobs are known to be more accident-prone than others, real hazards in the workplace can be difficult to predict as an outsider, making it hard to find out, if a position is worth taking in the first place. Should one expect a higher salary when exposed to a higher risk of serious injury?

HSE recently published data on industrial incidents in the UK, showing which industries record the highest number of fatal accidents and what causes them. Jobs with a higher degree of manual labour are more dangerous. The Waste and Recycling industry for example had the most injuries in 2016/2017. 12.69 in 100,000 workers were involved in a deadly accident at work, which is almost 30 times higher than the national average.

Fatal accidents more likely in manual jobs

Agriculture (7.61), Water Supply, Sewerage and Remediation (6.64) and Mining and Quarrying (3.28) all recorded high numbers of fatal injuries in 2016/2017. Looking at the raw numbers of accidents, Construction (ranked 6th with 1.37 deaths in 100,000) had the highest total with 30 deaths.

fatalities table

Arts, Entertainment, Recreation and Service activities showed the lowest fatal injury rate of 0.06, closely followed by Communication, Business and Finance (0.12) and Wholesale and Retail (0.2).

Research clearly shows, that manual workers live with a higher risk of getting injured at work than in other industries. Considering the cause of such accidents, people working in construction or jobs requiring mechanical skills seem to be more exposed to potential hazards.

Out of 137 deaths in 2016/2017, 31 were caused by moving vehicles, 25 by falling from a height and 20 by moving objects. Being struck by a moving vehicle is of course a threat that every worker is exposed to, regardless of his or her profession. Indeed, industries like Recycling or Agriculture ranked very high, partially because workers have a greater risk of being struck by a vehicle.

Can workers in accident-prone industries expect to get paid accordingly?

Using Adzuna’s salary stats, Arinite compared the fatal accident rates of each industry with the expected average income.


Please note, that the graph shows the average salary of all professions in an industry and does not illustrate any gaps that may exist between the salaries of lower and higher -income workers positions.

The highest earning industries seem to have ranked low in the accident rate previously. Business (£37,557), Finance (£37,369), Entertainment (£33,680), Service and Wholesale (£32,661) get paid well while at the same time being relatively safe. Water Supply, Sewerage, Remediation and especially Mining, as well as Electricity, Gas, Steam and Air Conditioning on the other hand previously appeared to have a high risk of being involved in an accident, but show a high annual average salary.

The lowest earning jobs in comparison are Storage (£22,866), Food (£24,199), Transport (£25,517), Retail (£25,639) and Recycling (£26,270). Whilst recycling had the worst accident rate, the other industries showed low numbers of fatal incidents. Storage, Food, Transport and Retail were all around the national average.

Higher safety risks do not result in higher salary

Comparing the fatal accident rate with the annual average salary of each industry shows, health and safety risks don’t appear to have a huge impact on how well a position is paid. Looking deeper into the different jobs within each industry, one would probably find that skilled workers, like those in construction, have a lower income and a higher risk of being in an accident than those in better paid tertiary industries.

Whilst inequalities in wages are unlikely to change overnight, working conditions can easily be improved to mitigate the chances of being involved in a fatal accident in the workplace. Complying with health and safety regulations does not only profit the company, but also the employee by creating a more secure and productive working environment. Simple workplace risk assessments can identify hazards and save workers’ lives.

Reducing safety risks can clearly profit every industry immensely. Whilst manual jobs record more accidents on average, workers in every industry are still exposed to potential dangers daily. Taking small steps towards a healthier and more secure environment can surely benefit your business in the long run.

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