The Importance of Occupational Health and Safety in the Workplace

Online Training By Matthew Coombes

Health and safety is an important aspect of ensuring that your organisation is successful. Not only does proper management of health and safety make your workplace a better place to work, failing to manage health and safety effectively can have serious impacts on your organisation’s performance and longevity.

There are many different reasons that managing health and safety is important, but we’ve broken them down into the three main areas that professionals focus on: moral, legal, and financial reasons to manage health and safety.

Statistics released by the HSE for the 2019/2020 period that showed that 693,000 people were injured at work, 65,427 employee injuries were reported under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR), and 142 people were killed at work over the 2020/2021 period.

Moral

If you’re employing somebody to undertake work, you should be ensuring that that person comes home safe at the end of the day. A workplace injury can often lead to a significant amount of pain and suffering, and many workplace injuries have lasting effects that can negatively impact a person’s life for years to come.

In 2019 alone, there were 2,369 recorded deaths from mesothelioma due to past exposures to asbestos. Asbestos was banned from use in 1999, which shows that even twenty years after working with asbestos it is still has the power to impact people’s health. Though your work may not include risk of exposure to asbestos, there are still similar hazards in the modern workplace – for example, exposure to silica dust can cause silicosis, and hardwood dust can cause cancers particularly in the nose.

Furthermore, your workplace operations will likely affect those around you as well, including members of the public.

For example, dropping a tool from scaffolding over a busy high street could seriously injure someone, and potentially permanently change their life.

A fire at your workplace could spread to nearby industrial, commercial, or residential areas and cause significant damage there too, causing stressful evacuations or potentially destroying people’s livelihoods.

Effective management of health and safety will reduce the likelihood these sorts of things occurring, helping to ensure that you’re not causing any needless suffering.
At the end of each working day, everyone within and around your organisation should be able to come home safe to their families, friends, pets and more.

Legal

It is a legal requirement under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to protect the health and safety of any employees or others that may be affected by the activities of your organisation. Failure to comply with the law can lead to legal action being taken against you or your organisation.

There may also be specific legislation that applies to your organisation’s operations that you should be aware of, such as The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992. This regulation applies to all employees who use screens and computers for prolonged periods of time.

If you are not aware of your legal responsibilities to managing health and safety, it is a good idea to undertake a health and safety training course. If you manage a team or have responsibility for others, you should consider a management level qualification such as the IOSH Managing Safely online course or NEBOSH General Certificate. If you’re a worker you should consider taking an IOSH Working Safely course, or encouraging your employer to put you onto an IOSH Working Safely course.

Financial

An accident or incident at work can come with a lot of different costs. If someone is impacted by the accident or incident, you may be at risk of legal cases being brought against your organisation that could lead to fines from the Health and Safety Executive, or compensation owed to the injured party. The estimated cost of injuries and ill health from current working conditions from 2018 to 2019 was £16.2 billion for Great Britain alone.

There are also less obvious costs that can add up, such as the cost of interruption to production. When an incident occurs production may have to be stopped to deal with it, persons may be injured and require medical attention, products could become damaged and be worth less or nothing. An injured person may be integral to the production line, for example if your stock is loaded onto lorries by forklift truck, and your forklift driver becomes injured, you may have to shut production down until you can hire a new driver from an agency.

After an incident or accident occurring, there is also the potential for insurance cost premiums to raise.

When it comes to the importance of health and safety at work, the bottom line is that effective management of health and safety saves money, keeps workers healthy and safe, and should be an important consideration of all of the organisation’s operations.


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