Why is health and safety so important?
Health and safety should be an essential part of every organisation’s strategy as we strive to protect our staff from harm and our businesses from legal exposure.
Health and Safety Executive (HSE) annual statistics released recently show that whilst we have an ever-improving picture in the UK, there is still lots of focus required to reduce the following stats:
- 144 workers killed whilst at work
- 1.4 million people suffering from a work-related illness
- 71,000 injuries to employees reported under RIDDOR
- 555,000 injuries sustained at work
- 30.7 million working days lost due to work-related illness and injury
- £15 billion estimated costs of injuries and ill-health
What are the issues?
The issues are that too many workers are receiving minor, recordable or even fatal injuries whilst at work and we should be doing all we can to avoid this. To understand the significance of health and safety in the workplace, you need to go back to basics. Heinrich’s Triangle Theory – or the health and safety pyramid - illustrates this for us. It is all pretty self-explanatory, and employers should seek to avoid all levels of the pyramid.
How can we resolve these issues?
Organisations need to take the bottom two layers of the pyramid seriously – unsafe acts and near miss incidents – and take the time to put a system in place whereby these two occurrences are handled correctly and fully. Doing this would result in the top three layers being reduced.
For example, if you trip over a cable but do not injure yourself, this is a near miss, but how do you record and communicate the incident, to learn from it and ensure it doesn’t happen again? Could it have gone back even further than that? If someone saw the unsafe cable being plugged in, they should speak up and say the obvious: it’s not safe, remove it!
This is where effective training comes in. Companies need to be investing in health and safety training, even if it is only at a basic level, or if those receiving training are tasked with disseminating the information they gain to their teams and colleagues.
Some it is common sense, but it’s good to state the obvious, because much of the time these are the things that people do not think about, or do not have the time to dwell on whilst doing their everyday jobs. If workers had a system in place to identify unsafe acts and record near miss accidents, these could then be acknowledged and solved, which may mean that an injury is avoided.
What’s in it for me?
This might be a question that employers, and indeed, employees, ask themselves when considering investing their money and time in health and safety training. And the answer is: a great deal. There are both financial and reputational/social benefits to committing to health and safety training.
Financial benefits for employers are that training may lead to a decrease in work-related injuries and illnesses, meaning that they have their workers at work for more days of the year. Less injuries in the workplace will also mean less risk of harm from legal exposure that may come from this type of incident.
For employees, the training may give them the knowledge they need to avoid injuring themselves. Injuries could have lasting effects which may cause not only physical discomfort, but also loss of money if they are unable to work and have limited or reduced sick pay.
Reputational benefits for employers are that training may lead to an improved safety record, which would reduce the risk of any negative publicity that may come with work-related injuries.
For employees, social benefits include avoiding the negative implications of not having safety training – for example, if you’re unable to work due to an injury, this may put financial pressure on your family, they may have to look after you while you are injured, you may not be able to continue on your planned life route or you may have to make significant changes.
PETA can help
Cultivating an environment in which health and safety is respected and valued is vital. Everyone must be on board in order for it to work, and it really is an essential part of every organisation.
PETA has a wide range of health and safety courses on offer. We can provide training in the areas you need it most, and also help to change opinions and build support for health and safety through our trainers’ enthusiasm, attitude and belief in the subject.
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HSE Health and safety at work: Summary statistics for Great Britain 2018