World Safety and Health at Work Day 2023:

What has Health and Safety Culture done for you?

  • UK Deaths reduced by 81% since 1974.
  • UK Non fatal injuries reduced by 84% since 1974.

The International Labour Organization’s ‘World Safety and Health at Work Day’ day should resonate with not only the Health and Safety department of every business, but with each and every worker at every place of employment in the land. It is an opportunity to pledge to continue improving workplace safety, as well as to look back and see the crystal-clear value of the legislation it supports.

In the UK Health & Safety Executive (HSE) came into being as a direct result of the revolutionary Health and Safety at Work Act, 1974. This was the first piece of legislation to encompass all industries and workers, placing responsibility on the employer and employees to ensure health, safety and wellbeing across all workplaces. Since this act became law, improvements in safety standards have seen an incredible 81% reduction in the number of workplace fatalities between 1974 and 2022. Non-fatal injuries also fell by 84%.

It’s not all good news though: an unconscionable number of injuries, work related illnesses and fatalities still occur every year. HSE publish the key statistics for the UK 2021/22:

Key statistics

Working people suffering from a work-related illness 1.8 million
  • 914,000 workers suffering work-related stress, depression or anxiety
  • 477,000 workers suffering from a work-related musculoskeletal disorder
  • 123,000 workers suffering from COVID-19 which they believe may have been from exposure to coronavirus at work
Mesothelioma deaths due to past asbestos exposures 2,544
Workers killed in work-related accidents 123
Working people sustained an injury at work 565,000 *Labour Force survey
Injuries to employees reported under RIDDOR 61,713 *Labour Force survey

The Personal Cost

The social and psychological impact of a work-related death, injury or illness cannot and must not be underestimated. As well as the devastating impact on the personal situation and future of the victim, it is suggested by the National Accident survey that ramifications run far wider in the community around them, affecting family, friends, carers, work colleagues and customers, all of whom may struggle to make the necessary re-adjustments. Businesses have an ethical duty to do all they can to prevent harm.

The Cost to Your Business

As well as the clear moral reasons to continue working to ensure all can go home safe and healthy at the end of a working day there is a strong business rationale for making every effort. 36.8 million working days are lost every year due to work related illness or injury. The combined financial and human cost of this is estimated to be a massive £18.8 million, including output, healthcare costs and other payments, including litigation. (HSE breakdown of analysis)

Not only is a business likely to have to pay significant amounts of money out for work related illness, injury or death, but the subsequent loss of productivity, reduction of sales, low staff morale, and loss of reputation can have a far more long-lasting impact. The commercial reasons to continually strengthen your H&S strategy are unmistakable.

The constituent costs of an example accident involving equipment damage and injury:

  • Injury and psychological trauma to the victim
  • Salary/compensation
  • Psychological fallout – family life, social isolation, economic problems
  • Trauma to witnesses
  • Equipment replacement/repair
  • Business downtime
  • Overtime/lost production/cancelled orders/reduced capacity and productivity
  • HSE checks and legal and administrative documentation
  • Insurance premium increases
  • PR fallout – reputation and credibility
  • New staff recruitment and training

The Importance of Behavioural Change and Thought Leadership

There are still many hardened H&S cynics out there who might feel that the health and safety culture has gone too far, removing personal responsibility and limiting innovation. They have probably never had an accident happen to them. Convincing those who are disdainful of the worth of H&S culture is a large part of the task remaining to further reduce injuries at work.

Psychologists suggest that approximately 80-95 percent of all workplace accidents are triggered by unsafe behaviours, interacting with minor issues in a workflow process or in the working environment. A combination of these creates a ‘perfect storm’ situation, suggesting that future reductions in accident rates might rely on not only having the right protective equipment but on the surrounding behaviour of those we are trying to protect. A strong and thoughtful health and safety strategy which starts from the top of the company and creates positivity around safe practices is an essential component in the battle to ensure that no harm comes to anybody who is doing their job.

Anchor Safety support ‘World Safety and Health at Work Day’ unequivocally. Anchor Safety can work with your company to not only supply high-quality, comfortable PPE that people actually want to wear but also to act as a trusted partner, supporting the creation of long-term, sustainable solutions - from finding and managing suitable PPE inventory to implementing behaviour-based safety initiatives.

Our aim - No Harm through Excellence in PPE.

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