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The business benefits of good practice in health and safety
By Kevin Rowe 2 years ago No comments
By any measurable metric, the improvements seen in health and safety standards in UK workplaces over the last few decades has had an immensely positive impact, helping to ensure that the wellbeing of British workers is better protected than ever before.
Data from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) shows that the rate of self-reported work-related ill health fell by around one-third between 1990 and 2011, while the number of fatal injuries to employees has dropped by a massive 85% between 1974 and 2018. This can be attributed to ongoing advances in health and safety awareness, and a growing sense of responsibility among businesses when it comes to the wellness and morale of those on their payroll.
However, some managers continue to regard health and safety as a burden to be begrudgingly tolerated, or even, in worse-case scenarios, as a bureaucratic hassle to be circumvented. Not only is this outlook deeply shortsighted, but it also fails to take into account the provable bottom-line benefits that a commitment to health and safety can have for an organisation.
Since this is a misconception that’s vitally important to combat, we’ve put together some of the key reasons why properly safeguarding your staff at work protects your commercial interests just as much as their personal wellbeing.
Minimising time lost to injury or illness
The most compelling business motivator for a full commitment to workplace health and safety is also the most obvious - simply put, workers who are ill or injured cannot carry out their jobs properly, meaning it is in the best interests of all parties to prevent sickness or accidents from occurring in the first place.
As well as being a logically obvious statement, it is also a premise with plenty of hard statistics to back it up: HSE data reveals that 30.7 million working days were lost in the UK due to work-related ill health and non-fatal workplace injuries in 2017-18. In addition, the total cost associated with workplace self-reported injuries and ill health for 2016-17 came to a colossal £15 billion.
Good health and safety practice can help to minimise these costs by reducing the amount of unplanned absences from work and the money spent on sickness pay - a benefit that will be felt by employers, government-funded social services and individual workers alike.
Improving productivity and profitability
Avoiding accidents can protect your business against the direct losses that come with a worker being injured, but the advantages in terms of efficiency and productivity don’t stop there.
Illness-related absences bring with them a whole host of indirect impacts, including the overall reduction in manpower, the need to pay other workers for overtime, and the increased risk of ill health among employees who are put under greater pressure in these circumstances. Additionally, workplace accidents are not only a health concern - they can result in property destruction, project setbacks and all manner of other unexpected costs that you may not have planned for.
By maintaining a solid commitment to safe working, your organisation can make sure that every task is completed as efficiently and quickly as possible, minimising the amount of disruption and downtime, and maximising your profit margins.
Reducing insurance premiums and legal costs
It is well-established that workplace accidents and injuries can be an expensive business, but many organisations may not have properly considered just how much they may be liable for until the worst has already happened.
Legal costs and insurance premiums are an inevitable business expense, but these can skyrocket to unsustainable levels if your company has a poor track record in terms of safety. Moreover, if an on-site incident can be proven to have occurred as a direct result of documentable health and safety failings, you may end up on the wrong end of a lawsuit, putting you at risk of having to pay out for compensation claims, solicitors’ fees and sizeable regulatory fines.
These costs can be extensive enough to put a company out of business altogether, which is why cutting corners on health and safety as a penny-pinching measure can end up being a false economy of the very worst kind.
Enhancing your corporate reputation among customers and workers
A good reputation has always been one of the most valuable commodities for any organisation, but in the current internet age, this has never been a more pressing concern. Thanks to social media, review websites and real-time online news services, bad news about a brand is only ever a quick Google search away.
On the flipside of this, the current focus on brand reputation has created new opportunities for those organisations who are willing to go the extra mile, as modern consumers are keener than ever to seek out ethical businesses and give them their custom. A strong and transparent dedication to the highest standards of health and safety can now be a marketable asset, especially if your company has the facts and figures to back this up.
This reputational benefit also manifests in the recruitment sphere, as jobseekers have become increasingly savvy about researching prospective employers online before registering an interest. Companies with a spotless safety record will therefore have a crucial competitive edge when it comes to gaining access to the best and most desirable talent on the market.
In these ways, it becomes clear that health and safety isn’t an administrative box-ticking exercise, or even a purely moral responsibility - it just makes good business sense.
For more insights into health and safety best practice and the benefits of a safe workplace, check in regularly with the SafetyBuyer blog! Alternatively, you can check out the main SafetyBuyer site to browse a wide range of products - including PPE & workwear, first aid equipment and fire safety gear - that can help keep your workers safe, no matter what the job may be.