WHY is health and safety important? Health and safety at work is often presented as facts and figures. It’s very easy to look at these and think “isn’t going to happen to us”. But what if you or your business were one of these facts and figures? What does that mean? What happens if it does happen to you?
Health and safety is important because workplace accidents can have life changing consequences. Here we look at the real impact on the business and the individual as well as the benefits of getting health and safety right to start with.
Who do accidents happen to?
Workplace accidents happen to anyone and everyone. Whilst some industries such as agriculture and construction have a higher level of accidents (HSE statistics 2018/19), no industry is immune. An injury could be the result of a slip, trip or fall, lifting something or someone, falling from height, even the effects of workplace stress. The causes are numerous. Whether you are or employ people trades on a construction site or administrative staff in an office health and safety equally applies.
Below is a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) video where people share how their lives were changed irreparably – but also unnecessarily – by workplace accidents
The business owner
We would always hope that a business owners first reaction would be concern and for the injured and the impact the injury may have not only on the life of the injured, but also their family.
However, the financial consequences of poor health and safety can be a business’s ruin.
Whilst employers are required to be insured, the premiums may increase significantly if health and safety is poorly managed resulting in accidents, injuries and fatalities. Also many of the losses incurred are not insured. These include:
- Lost time
- Extra wages
- Sick pay
- Production delays
- Loss of contracts
- Investigation time
- The excess on the insurance policy
- Legal costs
- Loss of business reputation
- The cost of damage to products, plant, buildings, tools and equipment
Work related injuries can be life changing, whether mental or physical. Some injuries may alter a career path, some end careers but the injured may be able to work, some may mean that the injured never works again.
Loss of, or reduced income affects the whole household. In some cases the injured person’s house has to be adapted. They may need to employ carers, or a family member may give up their job to become their carer. Hobbies, holidays and family treats as well as children’s activities may be impacted.
It’s not all about money. The injured person may experience pain every day for the rest of their lives. There may be mental trauma. They may not be able to physically do what they did before and relearn how to do everyday tasks, speak or even walk (if that is even possible). They may suffer depression. This doesn’t just affect the injured individual but their family and friends too.
Health and Safety matters
There are so many benefits for getting health and safety right now, rather than only acting when there is a problem.
Good health and safety management can help a business attract and retain good employees. This means the business can retain and expand their employees skills, knowledge and talent to help the business grow.
Having their health and safety house in order helps businesses win contracts. Often businesses have to prove their health and safety policies, procedures and management is in place before they will even be considered.
Businesses will attract new clients and retain old ones. What client wants to work with a business who has a poor health and safety record? Would you? The reputation and quality of your business affects those you do business with. People talk and generally you can find anything out on the internet – businesses can’t keep things hidden for long!
The cost of running the business can be less as insurance premiums may go down, employees take less time off sick and the business does not incur the extra costs that are inevitable when accidents happen.
Let’s face it. Businesses getting their health and safety in order is far more cost effective than dealing with the aftermath of it going wrong.