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Health & Safety


Learning from others T


Karen McDonnell argues that introducing an effective health and safety culture is just the start. Organisations have to keep on top of good- practice developments, too, and the RoSPA Awards are a great source of ideas


he good news is workplaces in the UK are the safest in the world. Evolving health and safety


legislation and improving practices have seen deaths and injury in the workplace continually slide over the past century. Not only that, but employers in this country have also grasped the idea of health and safety being not just something which they must do to meet rules and regulations, but something which is a duty owed to their employees. Good health and safety is good business! We all recognise that accidents in the workplace have devastating consequences for those involved and their loved ones (not to mention an organisation’s reputation).


Staying vigilant But here’s the bad news – this can change all too easily.


This has unfortunately been made apparent with the release of the Health and Safety Executive fatality statistics for 2014/15. These have revealed that during this period 142 workers were fatally injured at work – an increase of six from the previous year, which was an all-time low number.


The figures are proof that although


workplace safety has steadily improved, things can get worse very quickly. They are proof that employers must not take their eyes off the ball however good their record is, however safe their practices are, and we must not become complacent when it comes to people’s health, safety and wellbeing. There could be a number of explanations for the increase in deaths. Perhaps it is that, as we look to tackle increasingly problematic issues, more simple problems can often be dismissed all too easily. By now we should all be familiar with


how to safeguard against ‘the usual suspects’ such as slips, trips and falls. But this knowledge is now so ingrained that we can become lured into a false sense of security, believing that those kinds of mishaps are consigned to history. However, the opposite is true and a


‘new’ population is having these same old injuries. These are the sorts of issues that can cause the country – and those who suffer them – the most damage. In 2013/14, 4.7 million work days


were lost due to workplace injuries, with employees taking on average 7.5 days off. The most frequent causes of injury were manual handling, slips and trips, and falls from height, and can cost companies heavily in fines as well as lost productivity. And unfortunately, these figures may just be the tip of the iceberg. For example, between a quarter and a third of all road crashes in the UK involve someone who is driving for their job, while research shows more employees are killed in at-work road accidents than in all other occupational accidents combined – roughly 150 people are killed or seriously injured in a work-related crash each week. It is the hidden killer on Britain’s roads, something which the HSE data does not show.


Less obvious causes We must also remember the number of people who are made ill through work. And while we can quantify what


we can see, employers also need to be aware of the potentially hidden risks of the working environment.


FACILITIES 115


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