Why is health and safety important in the workplace? Because it is quite simply that people’s lives depend on what happens at work. It is not unreasonable to expect that someone will return home in the same condition they left for work that morning. Unfortunately 171 people were killed at work in 2010 (according to the HSE 2010/11 statistics) with another 315,379 employees injured. The HSE doesn’t say how badly they were injured but safe to assume some pain was involved!
In reviewing the HSE figures, the industries with the highest fatality rates were Agriculture and Construction and in hindsight this does make sense. Although these figures are currently provisional, 42 people suffered fatalities in Agricultural incidents including 8 members of the public with 52 fatalities in Construction including two members of the general public.
Overall these are not great statistics, but the underlying trend of fatalities in the UK is downward and the UK is consistently one of the lowest in the EU and has been the lowest amongst the big five European countries for the past six years.
In business terms it does not make good reading either – over 26.4 million working days were lost due to work related illness or injury, with the average worker absent for 15 days. Just think if you are a business owner and you lost a percentage of your workforce for 1 to 3 weeks – what impact would it have on a business?
Over 1.2 million people also suffered a work related illness – either caused or made worse by their current or past work. Around 75% of these cases were due to lifting/bad posture, stress, depression or anxiety.
More bad news… The HSE issued over 18,000 enforcement notices against businesses with 551 cases going on to face prosecution. Of these cases, a conviction rate of 94% was secured with an average penalty of £35,938 per offence. Can you imagine what time, effort and cost to a business in dealing with the associated investigations, responses, paperwork and not to mention any communication with any legal representatives together with the stress it would put on any business? With recent changes to how to HSE operate this is expected to increase so even more reason to ensure your Health & Safety is in good order.
So, overall it looks to be easier to spend some time in making sure your employees are safe and spending some time looking at Health & Safety for your business. If you need an answer to the question of why is health and safety important in the workplace then the figures shown above and your responsibility as a business owner gives you the answer!