IOSH publishes annual UK food industry snapshot

04 April 2017

The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has conducted its most in-depth study to-date into the health and safety performance of the UK’s food and drink industry.

food production line

Five Trade Associations representing more than 120,000 workers – equating to 30 per cent of the total UK food and drink industry workforce – took part in the IOSH Food and Drink Industries Group’s annual health and safety benchmarking survey.

The survey was conducted with the support of the Food and Drink Manufacture Health and Safety Forum using safety and health data recorded in 2014/15, which was the latest available.

It revealed there were 99 specified injuries and 816 over-three-day injuries recorded that year, with responses coming from people working in the alcohol, dairy, baking, grain milling and chilled and frozen food sectors.

Around half of the specified injuries reported were as a result of slips, trips or falls, while one in five were as a consequence of falls from height and one in ten due to contact with moving machinery.

The survey also recorded an accident frequency rate of 0.34 over-three-day injuries per 100,000 hours.

Survey coordinator Andy Melachrino, who is Vice-Chair of the IOSH Food and Drink Industries Group, said: “What is clear is that the top cause of injury in all categories is slips and trips, which will continue to be a key focus for the industry along with preventing musculoskeletal injury through manual handling and good occupational health management.

“We can see improving trends in accident frequency rates both in specified injuries and over-three-day lost time injuries for the sector as a whole, which is in line with a continued downward trend as seen in the Health and Safety Executive’s RIDDOR injury data.

“In providing the benchmarking data we hope both trade associations and individual companies will use it to measure their own performance and to drive continued improvement plans to prevent workplace injuries and occupational illness caused by work.”

Respondents were also asked whether they had had any dangerous occurrences and fires in the 12-month period.

There were 24 incidents reported in 2014/15 involving the accidental release of a substance that may cause harm, and 20 reported fires.

Work-related health disorders were also covered as part of the survey. The most common issues reported were mental wellbeing and work-related upper limb disorders, while back injuries and occupational dermatitis were also listed.

The IOSH Food and Drink Industries Group has conducted the survey since 2010. The latest survey was the first conducted via the forum and its trade association members, having previously been based on individual company submissions.

The survey aims to allow food and drink companies to compare their safety and health performance with others in the sector.

For a copy of the latest results, or for more information about future surveys, email

Caption: Contact with moving machinery was among the most frequent causes of injuries, according to the survey