The HSE ‘Costs to Britain Model’ estimates that between 2015 and 2016 the cost of workplace injury and ill health totalled £14.9bn. Over 1 million workers were injured at work or suffered from ill health due to workplace health and safety issues. The HSE report goes on to explain the link between accidents at work and the ‘costs’ to the induvial, businesses and the wider economy, “These cases impose ‘human’ costs (in terms of the impact on the individual’s quality of life and, for fatal injuries, loss of life), as well as the ‘financial’ costs, such as loss of production due to absence from work, and healthcare costs.”
Employers have a legal, moral and financial duty to protect the health, safety and welfare of their employees and others who may be affected by working activities or on their premises. Too often workplace safety provision is not seen as a priority, some of the common complaints about dealing with Health and Safety include:
- “Health and Safety regulations are over the top”
- “It gets in the way of doing things”
- “I don’t have time” and “its common sense”.
Workplace Accidents – Costs to the business?
As an organisation do you do everything reasonably practicable to prevent workplace accidents? Do you have effective Health and Safety policies in place?
The following example shows what can happen when the correct procedures have not been implemented and the potential cost to business and their employees:
An accident has occurred on your premises and consequently an employee has broken their leg. The HSE are informed of the accident through your RIDDOR notification and carry out a full investigation. After their investigation it was found that you had no Risk Assessments in place, no safe systems of work, the employee received no training and there was no guarding in place on the machinery. The ‘costs’ of the accident could include:
- Prosecution and being fined several thousands of pounds, however as a business the accident could cost you a lot more financially than just the fine.
- Your reputation may be affected with clients ceasing their contracts with your company.
- Equipment may need to be repaired costing you lost or ‘down’ time.
- You would have to employ another worker to carry out the employee’s duties whilst they are recovering.
Awareness of the Wider Health and Safety Costs
When an accident has occurred, it can have an impact on the wider community both locally and nationally. In this example scenario, the business may end up closing permanently as their reputation is ruined and they are not financially stable to operate leading to job losses. Those individuals who have been made redundant struggle to find alternative work leading to them struggling financially. The employee who was injured may have to have counselling due to suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and having to have more frequent visits to the doctors all of which can affect their family life.
When looking at Health and Safety provision it is important to be aware of the wider public health impact, every employee has a right to work in a safe environment. Putting resources into workplace Health and Safety will have a positive impact not only on safe systems at work but also will ensure that your employees feel valued, therefore creating a more productive workforce.
Its important to take time to communicate with employees about safety at work and any associated mental health issues that may be affecting your team. There are a variety of initiatives which can be used to deal with workplace mental health – The Time to Talk campaign aims to encourage a dialogue about mental health to start making a positive difference.
A positive Health and Safety culture can provide many benefits for your organisation, contact our team of Health and Safety Consultants to find out about the support and guidance we can offer your business.