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The Cost of Workplace Injury and Illness in Great Britain

For employers, workplace sickness and absence play a huge role in team productivity, worker safety and cost to business. A 2023 study from HSE (Health and Safety Executive) took a deeper look into the financial impact sickness and injury had on businesses, individuals and government benefits from a monetary standpoint. We have taken a look at the findings to highlight the importance of worker health and safety and training for trying to avoid injury and reduce sickness, adding advice for employers on what they need to consider to avoid the impact of this for their businesses.

How Much Does Workplace Injury and Sickness Cost Britain?

According to the HSE report, costs associated with worker injury and illness have been rising year-on-year since the pandemic. Data from the last complete year showed there was a 10% rise in costs from sickness/injury in the 2021/2022 year compared to 2019/2020.

In total, the cost of workplace injury and illness is estimated to be £20.7bn for the last year of reported data from 2023. This is made up of £7.7bn costs for workplace injuries and £13.1bn for sickness. The reasoning suggested for ill health to cost more than injury is it generally leads to more absence days off work, costing more to employers, businesses, and the government.

The same reported estimated £7.2bn is lost in productivity costs to businesses for days lost to sickness and injury. In terms of government costs, £4.2bn is said to be the cost for occupational injury and illness.

Unfortunately for workers, they will bear the majority of this cost on themselves, as £12.2bn of the total will be lost by the individual. The remaining portion from the £20.7bn total is evenly split between workplaces and taxpayers.

In terms of time costs, an average of 17 days is taken off work due to work-related illness and 9 days for injury per person. It is reported that the biggest contributing factor to sickness and injury occurring is workplace environments themselves, highlighting the importance for businesses to employ the necessary health and safety processes and training to minimise any risks associated with injury or illness.

Which Regions Have the Highest Costs?

Of all British regions, London had the highest overall sickness cost, this is understandable given the dense population of the capital city. The South East had the highest cost for workplace injury at £981m. Take a look at each region’s costs below:


Cost of ill health (£m): 1219

Cost of injury (£m): 681

A separate report of Scotland’s data estimates there are 136,000 work-related ill-health cases annually. The majority, 59% of new cases relate to workplace stress or anxiety, proving the significance of proper mental health support for workers to reduce the impact this has both on the individual and the business. 24% are musculoskeletal disorders, these can be caused by improper health and safety processes and protocols being ignored. A large number of musculoskeletal disorders can be caused at work by actions such as lifting heavy objects, exposure to body vibration from machinery, overhead work or repetitive tasks of force.

North East

Cost of ill health (£m): 419

Cost of injury (£m): 231

Of all regions, the North East has the lowest costs for both ill health and injury. The low costs could be attributed to a smaller population compared against all other regions. Interestingly, a study of ONS data reported in December 2023 states workers in the North East are proportionally more likely to take absence from work for illness, although as there are less people living in the area this has a lower impact on overall costs from HSE.

North West

Cost of ill health (£m): 1460

Cost of injury (£m): 781

The North West has the highest cost of worker injury and illness in the north and has higher costs than Scotland across both categories. The North West also has the second highest cost of worker ill health in Britain. The North West is the third-highest populated region in the UK, which explains the combined higher costs of injury and illness, although proportionally the North West has a smaller population compared to the South East which saw less costs for worker illness. Statista estimates there were around 7.5m people living in the North West in 2022.

Yorkshire and the Humber

Cost of ill health (£m): 1127

Cost of injury (£m): 472

Yorkshire and the Humber has high costs for both illness and injury relating to workplaces relative to its population. Yorkshire and the Humber has high costs for worker illness, ranking sixth overall with £1127m estimated costs for sickness from work. Looking at injury costs, the region performed much better and has some of the lowest costs of worker injury versus other regions. Only Wales and the North East had lower estimated costs for injury in Britain.


Cost of ill health (£m): 531

Cost of injury (£m): 311

Wales has the second lowest overall costs for injury and illness combined, across Britain. It does have the second smallest population which correlates to this ranking. Workplace sickness and injury costs Wales an estimated £842 million per year.

West Midlands

Cost of ill health (£m): 908

Cost of injury (£m): 732

Overall, the West Midlands ranked in the middle when looking at combined costs per region for illness and injury. West Midlands is the fifth most-populated region in Britain, with the sixth highest costs for illness and injury. This demonstrates a slightly lower rate of cost for the region but places it relative for its population.

East Midlands

Cost of ill health (£m): 838

Cost of injury (£m): 510

The East Midlands is less populated than many other regions, although proportionally it does see a high cost of workplace injury for the number of people living there. The region ranks 9th out of 11 British regions for population, however it ranks 8th for cost of worker injury and illness when compared separately.


Cost of ill health (£m): 1690

Cost of injury (£m): 960

Naturally, due to its dense population, London has very high costs linked to worker sickness and injury. With the second highest population in the country at 8.86m (data from 2022), London has combined costs from sickness and injury of an estimated £2650m. London ranks second for the costs of worker injury and is first for costs associated with worker illness in Britain.


Cost of ill health (£m): 802

Cost of injury (£m): 642

The East of England reports an estimated £1444m per year in costs of worker sickness and injury, relatively low to its high population. For worker injury costs the East ranked seventh and for illness it ranked ninth, low considering the population is the fourth largest in the UK.

South East

Cost of ill health (£m): 1413

Cost of injury (£m): 981

Despite having a larger population than London, with an estimated population of 9,379,833 in 2022, the South East ranks second overall for costs associated with illness and injury for workers. The South East did have the highest costs of all British regions for worker injury but ranked second-highest for worker illness, being outranked by only London.

South West

Cost of ill health (£m): 1345

Cost of injury (£m): 812

The South West of England is the sixth biggest for its population, but ranks fourth highest for combined costs of worker illness and injury across Britain. The South West ranked fourth highest of all regions for estimated illness costs and third highest for injury costs. Total costs for both illness and injury is estimated to be £2157m.

Notes on the data: regional breakdown of costs includes all cases where region of work is known. Ill health and injury cases, where region of work is not known amount to a further £1.35 billion and £0.59 billion respectively.

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