Data from the Health and Safety Executive reveals there were more than 65,000 workplace injuries to employees reported under RIDDOR in Great Britain in 2019-20. Figures also show that there were 111 fatalities as well as 1.6 million people suffering from work-related illnesses.
The bare statistics are shocking and serve to underline how crucial it is that businesses across all sectors do everything in their power to look after the wellbeing of all members of staff as well as the general public.
Of course, sometimes accidents do happen and thankfully the rate of non-fatal injuries continues to show a downward trend, but there is still plenty of progress to be made. So, just why is health and safety in the workplace so important, and what can be done to improve it?
Why is safety at work so important?
First and foremost, businesses have a legal responsibility to look after their employees. If they fail to do so, they could find themselves facing action in the form of a lawsuit, which could lead to considerable financial and reputational damage.
Not only that but on the most basic of human levels, there is a moral obligation to care for one another and do not want to see anybody come to harm. There is also a wider financial aspect in that the estimated cost of injuries and ill health at work in 2018-19 amounted to a whopping £16.2 billion, which has a detrimental effect on the economy.
What can be done to improve safety at work?
- Risk assessments: These should be carried out across all premises and for any activities where the health and wellbeing of any individual could be reasonably assumed to be under threat. It’s important that potential issues are highlighted ahead of time so that they can be dealt with before any such problems become a reality.
- Appropriate equipment: All businesses should provide their staff with the requisite apparatus. For example, those on construction sites should be issued with protective equipment as standard such as ear defenders, high-vis jackets, hard hats, gloves and steel-capped boots.
- Regular training: Staff at all levels should be given frequent refreshers on safety protocols and updated on any new developments in the guidelines. Training should be mandatory to enable all employees to understand how to deal with certain situations, and a culture of accountability should be encouraged so that any issues can be raised and dealt with before they become a problem with the potential to cause serious harm.