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Executive Summary of Occupational Lung Disease Statistics in Great Britain 2023

The 2023 HSE Report on Occupational Lung Disease in Great Britain highlights 12,000 annual deaths, predominantly due to past workplace exposures. Key statistics include 2,268 mesothelioma deaths in 2021, with 19,000 new and 43,000 existing cases each year among workers. The report also identifies major causes like dusts from construction materials and airborne particles from manufacturing processes. These figures emphasize the ongoing impact of occupational hazards and the importance of preventive measures in the workplace.

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Occupational Lung Disease Statistics in Great Britain 2023

This is an executive summary of the HSE Report on Occupational Lung Disease statistics in Great Britain, 2023. The report provides a comprehensive overview of the current state of lung diseases that can be caused by exposures in the workplace, including serious diseases such as cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The summary will highlight key findings, explaining them in detail and discussing whether the trend is increasing or declining.

12,000 Annual Deaths from Occupational Lung Disease

The report estimates that there are currently 12,000 Occupational Lung Disease (OLD) deaths each year linked to past exposures at work. This estimate is based on death certificates and an epidemiological estimation of the effects of occupational exposures. The number of deaths reflects the effect of past working conditions, as occupational lung diseases typically have a long latency (Source: HSE Report, page 4).

2,268 Mesothelioma Deaths in 2021

In 2021, there were 2,268 mesothelioma deaths, which can be counted directly from national mortality data. A similar number of estimated lung cancer deaths were due to past exposures to asbestos (Source: HSE Report, page 4).

19,000 New Cases Each Year

Estimates based on the Labour Force Survey (LFS) averaged over the last three years show that there were 19,000 new cases each year among those who had worked in the previous year (Source: HSE Report, page 4).

43,000 New or Long-standing Cases Each Year

The same LFS data shows that there were 43,000 new or long-standing cases each year among those who worked in the previous year (Source: HSE Report, page 4).

152,000 New or Long-standing Cases Among Those Who Have Ever Worked

According to the LFS data, there were 152,000 new or long-standing cases among those who have ever worked (Source: HSE Report, page 4).

1,108 New Cases of Occupational Respiratory Disease Recorded by Chest Physicians in 2019

In 2019, there were 1,108 new cases of occupational respiratory disease recorded by consultant chest physicians within the SWORD scheme. This represents a substantial underestimate of the annual incidence, as many cases of mesothelioma and asbestos related lung cancer are not referred to chest physicians (Source: HSE Report, page 12).

3,165 New Cases of Occupational Lung Diseases Assessed for Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit in 2022

In 2022, there were 3,165 new cases of occupational lung diseases assessed for Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB), of which 2,855 (90%) were diseases associated with past asbestos exposure (Source: HSE Report, page 12).

20% of Cases Caused by Dusts from Stone, Cement, Brick or Concrete

Based on the Labour Force Survey, nearly 20% of cases of breathing and lung problems were caused by dusts from stone, cement, brick or concrete (Source: HSE Report, page 16).

13% of Cases Caused by Airborne Materials from Spray Painting or Manufacturing Foam Products

The same survey showed that 13% of cases were caused by airborne materials from spray painting or manufacturing foam products (Source: HSE Report, page 16).

7% of Cases Caused by Dusts from Flour, Grain/Cereal, Animal Feed or Straw

According to the LFS, 7% of cases were caused by dusts from flour, grain/cereal, animal feed or straw (Source: HSE Report, page 16).


The HSE Report provides a comprehensive overview of the scale and impact of Occupational Lung Disease in Great Britain. It highlights the significant number of deaths and new cases each year, and the various causes of these diseases. The report underscores the importance of improving workplace conditions and reducing exposure to harmful agents to prevent these diseases.


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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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