It is a startling fact that in the year 2011/12 over 1.1 million staff members suffered a work-related illness. 173 workers were killed at work and 111 000 other injuries to employees were reported. Additionally, 27 million working days were lost due to work-related illness and injury.
Beyond it being a legal requirement, health and safety policies could save UK businesses £700 million according a study of a UK manufacturer conducted by a consultancy firm, Coriolis.
The study found that a progressive approach to health and safety reduced the number of sick days lost as a result of accidents by 35 per cent. This had a knock-on effect on claim pay-outs which were reduced by 50 per cent, and lowered insurance premiums by 10 per cent.
If these savings were achieved across UK businesses they would total nearly £700 million as workplace fatalities, injuries and work-related ill health cost companies £3.16 billion in the 2010/11 financial year.
It seems that some companies do not have robust policies that go further than the basic legislative needs, but if they did so they would provide significant gains for businesses. As well as there being clear financial benefits, progressive Health and Safety policies can have an extremely positive impact on a business, ensuring that the safety of employees is paramount, and additionally a good policy can build a strong internal reputation that boosts morale and productivity. In turn, this will have the effect of improving operational efficiency for businesses, if only they could see the bigger picture.
It is likely that the expense to businesses will rise in time, as laws introduced in October 2012 allow the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to recover costs if they are required to investigate breaches of workplace safety rules. In the six months after the introduction of the new regulations, organisations paid nearly £2.7 million to the HSE.
It is worrying that so many companies still refuse to take health & safety seriously. Here at Slater and Gordon, we see the impact on those who are injured and the effect that these injuries have on families. If you have suffered injury or illness arising out of an accident at work, then please know that we are here to advise you. However, whilst it is correct to say that compensation claims add to the price of health & safety, until companies take this seriously, insurers must pay that price. Instead of criticising the compensation culture, insurers would be wise to tackle those they insure so that prevention of accidents is the main focus.