Food and drink injuries and ill-health survey revealed

08 July 2014

Hundreds of workers in the UK food industry are likely to suffer an over-three-day accident during their working lifetime, according to the results of an annual survey on occupational injuries and ill health in the food and drink industry.

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The study reveals there were two deaths, 133 major injuries and 767 over-three-day injuries in the sector in 2011/2012. These findings come from 63 companies, employing almost 85,000 staff. This gives giving a sample size of approximately 17 per cent of the food and drink industry workforce.


Commissioned by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health’s (IOSH) Food and Drink Group, the Food and Drink. Federation (FDF) and Dairy UK, the survey aims to improve the industry’s track record. It also endeavours to advance understanding on health and safety by gathering accurate food-industry performance data. It is hoped this will provide focus for ongoing initiatives to make food and drink manufacturing a safer and healthier industry for workers.

The overall over-three-day accident frequency rate (AFR) was 0.56 per 100,000 hours worked and statistics for other food industry categories were also calculated to enable industry categories to compare performance. The overall AFR had decreased from the previous 2010/2011 figure of 0.62.

Slips, trips and falls on the same level  were the top cause of major, over-three-day and lost-time accidents, with injured whilst handling, lifting or carrying a close second. Falls from height accounted for a significant number of major, over three day and lost time accidents and being struck by or against objects was also a key cause of over-three-day and lost time incidents.

The reported accident/incident rate for 2011/12 survey is slightly lower than 2010/11, (1066 compared with 1177) reflecting the continuing trend of reducing accident rates in the food and drink industry. This survey will be repeated in a similar format for 2012/13, which will allow more accurate data to be collected and appropriate comparisons to be made.

Commenting on the results, IOSH Food and Drink Group chair Jackie Wooldridge said: “This study is seen as a stepping stone in building up a rich source of data to enable the industry to form a picture of performance and priorities. This includes a clearer view of ill-health, of which there are thousands of incidents costing millions of pounds annually.

“The good thing is that the accident frequency rate in the sector is continuing to decrease as a result of the hard work of all involved. However, focus on the key risks, such as slips and trips and manual handling, is still required to drive further performance improvements.” 

“Furthermore, falls from height continue to cause a considerable amount of life changing injuries which practitioners should highlight to their management teams and implement the well known controls to reduce these risks.”

If you would like to obtain a copy of the survey results, please contact: Julie.Littlejohns@iosh.co.uk.

To hear Jackie Wooldridge speak on this survey please click here