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Executive Summary of HSE Work-Related COPD Statistics 2023

The 2023 HSE Report on Work-related Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) in Great Britain indicates that 15% of COPD cases, about 4,000 deaths annually, are linked to occupational exposures. Coal miners, significantly affected, are eligible for Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit. Key contributors include various workplace dusts, fumes, and chemicals. The report estimates the prevalence of COPD at 4.9% to 6.7% in the over-40 population, equating to roughly 2 million cases in GB. In 2022, there were 105 new cases recognized for benefits and 2 cases reported by chest physicians, emphasizing the role of work environments in COPD development.

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Executive Summary of the HSE Report on Work-related Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Statistics in Great Britain, 2023

This article provides an executive summary of the HSE report on work-related Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) statistics in Great Britain, 2023. The report contains extensive facts and statistics, which have been distilled into key findings for easy understanding.

15% of COPD Cases are Attributed to Occupational Exposures

According to the report (page 4), around 15% of total COPD cases or deaths in Britain, equivalent to about 4,000 deaths per year, are contributed by occupational exposures. This is consistent with various epidemiological studies and reviews.

COPD in Former Coal Miners Recognised for Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit

Based on clear evidence of increased risk among these workers, COPD in former coal miners has been recognised for Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB) for a number of years (page 4).

Various Workplace Exposures Contribute to COPD

Various dusts (including grain and silica) as well as certain fumes and chemicals (including welding fume, isocyanates, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) are likely to contribute to COPD (page 4).

Prevalence of COPD in Great Britain is Around 4.9% to 6.7%

A recent UK study using the Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD) estimated a prevalence among those over 40 years of age of 4.9% for clinically validated cases and 6.7% including potentially undiagnosed cases (page 5).

Estimated 2 Million Prevalent Cases of COPD Currently in GB

These prevalence proportions suggest of the order of 2 million prevalent cases currently in GB (page 5).

15% of COPD Cases Attributed to Work

An earlier review of the epidemiological evidence derived a best estimate of 15% of cases attributable to work (page 6).

4,000 Deaths per Year Currently in Britain Due to COPD

This equates to around 4,000 deaths per year currently in Britain (page 6).

Coal Dust Exposure Through Mining Activities is an Established Cause of COPD

Coal dust exposure through mining activities is an established cause of COPD (page 6).

105 Cases of COPD in 2022

Over the period 2012-2019, the annual number of new IIDB cases has been much lower and broadly constant with an average of around 80 per year. There were 105 cases in 2022 (page 7).

2 Reports of COPD Cases by Chest Physicians in 2022

In 2022, there were 2 reports by chest physicians in the SWORD scheme compared with 25 in 2019 and a ten-year average of 23 for the period 2010-2019 (page 7).


In conclusion, the HSE report provides a comprehensive overview of the COPD situation in Great Britain. It highlights the significant role of occupational exposures in causing COPD, with around 15% of total cases attributed to work. The report also underscores the importance of continued research and monitoring to better understand and address the issue.


Richard O'Connor's Headshot

Richard O'Connor is a Director at First Mats. He has deep knowledge in areas like Manufacturing, Warehousing, Marine, and Health & Safety. Richard's insights have been featured in well-known publications such as Bloomberg Business, The Sun, and Reader's Digest. His blend of industry expertise and passion for sharing makes him a sought-after voice in his fields.

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