There’s no doubt that injury and illness continue to blight the UK workplace, with some 1.7 million people suffering from conditions (such as stress and anxiety) in the year ending 2021.
Through the pandemic, a further 93,000 workers who suffered from Covid-19 during this period also believed that this infection originated in the workplace, highlighting a new and worrying H&S challenge for employers.
In this post, we’ll ask precisely what’s meant by health and safety in the workplace, while asking why this is so important.
What is Health and Safety in the Workplace?
Health and safety in the workplace is occasionally referred to as ‘occupation health and safety’, and it describes a multidisciplinary field that’s preoccupied with the safety, welfare and wellbeing of people as they go about their daily work.
It’s most commonly discussed in terms of injuries in the workplace, which may occur as a result of negligence or inadequate safety measures.
However, it can also include absenteeism and long-term illnesses caused by stress, anxiety or depression, so long as the trigger for such conditions is thought to have originated in the workplace.
In factory settings, long-term absences may also be caused by accidents and exposure to certain chemicals or toxins, while all industries carry their own unique risk factors and safety considerations.
With this in mind, H&S regulations in the UK place a burden of responsibility on employers. This can take numerous forms, from the need to undertake unique and relevant risk assessments to minimizing these effectively and providing an efficient reporting process in the event of incidents or accidents in the workplace.
Why is Health and Safety So Important?
From a purely practical perspective, there’s no doubt that absenteeism caused by workplace illness and injury takes a huge financial toll on employers (we’ll touch more on this later in the piece).
However, the importance of health and safety should also be measured in human value. More specifically, creating an effective H&S regime can actively protect employees, by minimizing their risk of injury or illness and ensuring that they can work in a safe and productive environment.
There’s also an argument that prioritizing health and safety is the morally right thing to do, as it places people and human capital at the forefront of your business while contributing to a healthy employee culture within any workplace.
When it comes to the cost of poor or inadequate health and safety, a report from 2020 estimated this to be in the region of £21 billion per annum. What’s more, this is forecast to increase to £26 billion by 2030, reinforcing the economic case for business owners to prioritize H&S and actively safeguard their staff members.
From the cost of no-win, no-fee compensation payouts originating from accidents to the loss of productivity caused by employee downtime, targeted and relevant health and safety measures can help to reduce this financial burden and boost the long-term profitability of your venture.
Remember, injury or illness-induced absenteeism also impacts productivity directly, so investing in health and safety represents a sensible and proactive step for forward-thinking business owners.
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