The Importance of Health and Safety in the Workplace
Before taking a deep dive into the health and safety statistics for Scotland and Northern Ireland, understanding the importance of health and safety in the workplace is vital.
As a health and safety consultant with years of experience in various industries, health and safety practices are not mere formalities or regulatory hoops. Health and safety play a vital role in how employees feel about their workplace and employers.
Health and safety practices are crucial elements that shape an organisation’s culture, promoting a productive, and respectful environment. It is impossible to overstate the importance of health and safety in the workplace, as it is an essential component of a successful business strategy, developing a workplace culture, encouraging worker well-being, and ultimately enhancing productivity.
Work-related fatalities in Great Britain 2022/23
The HSE published 2022/23 (April 22 – March 23), health and safety statistics for work-related fatalities on Thursday 6th July 2023;
- 135 employees died from work-related accidents
- Highest deaths were construction – 45 deaths
- 21 deaths in agriculture, forestry and fishing
- 15 in Manufacturing
- 15 in Transportation and storage
- 2268 mesothelioma deaths occurred in 2021, these were deaths linked to past exposure to asbestos.
The most common causes of fatalities at work in 2023
- Falls from heights – 40.
- Struck by a moving object – 29.
- Struck by a moving vehicle – 20.
The United Kingdom is one of the safest places to work in the world, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic there was a continuous downward trend in work-related fatalities. Lets take a deeper dive into health and safety statistics across Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Key Health and safety statistics for Scotland 2022
Across Scotland as of a report done in 2021, it is estimated to have 2.7 million people active in the economy (aged between 16-64). The biggest sector in Scotland is public administration, Education, and health with 33.5% active in this sector. The smallest industry is Agriculture and fishing at 1.6%, however, this is 0.8% higher compared to Great Britain as a whole.
A report highlighted in Scotland, its estimated to have 342 thousand businesses in operation.
- On average between 2019/20 – 2021/22 115,000 employees are suffering from work-related ill health each year.
- Between 2021 and March 2022 there were 17 fatal injuries in the workplace across Scotland
- On average each year there are 41,000 non-fatal injuries to employees at work
- The cost of workplace injuries and ill health amounted to £302 million
Health and safety statistics for work-related ill health in Scotland 2021 – 2022
Work-related ill health is a significant concern that affects countless individuals in Scotland, as evidenced by the staggering health and safety statistics at work from 2021 to 2022. With an estimated 136,000 cases reported annually, it is evident that immediate action is imperative to address this issue. Of these cases, a concerning 62,000 are new occurrences, highlighting the urgent need for preventative measures.
It is crucial to note that the overall rate of work-related ill health in Scotland, at 4,870 cases per 100,000 workers, is not statistically significantly different from the national average of 5,070 cases per 100,000 workers in Great Britain. These numbers highlight the pressing need for health and safety solutions in the workplace.
The consequences of work-related ill health extend beyond individual suffering, with an average of 2.7 million days lost each year, resulting in a rate of 1.24 days lost per worker. It is alarming to discover that 59% of new or persistent conditions are related to stress, depression, or anxiety, while 24% are musculoskeletal disorders.
These figures underline the importance of prioritising mental well-being alongside physical health in the workplace. The cost of workplace injuries amounted to £ 1.5 billion in 2019 – 2020, splitting this out to £539 million for workplace injuries and £926 million for ill health.
Key Health and Safety Statistics at Work for Northern Ireland 2022
- Workplace ill health costing the Northern Ireland Economy over £238 million per year.
- HSENI conducted 2902 Health and Safety inspections between 2021 and 2022, serving 123 formal enforcement notices.
- They dealt with 945 unsatisfactory working conditions complaints.
- Conducted 9 successful prosecutions, generating £355,100 in fines
- Major injuries increased by 51% in 2021-22 from 158 to 239 across all sectors in Northern Ireland
- 2020-21 to 2021-22 saw an increase of 18% in work-related injuries reported
- Work-related injuries were caused by slips/trips at 32% and falls from heights at 29%
Looking at the time frames and comparisons of health and safety statistics at work, taking into account the previous year was throughout the pandemic when many businesses were forced to shut down. In 2020-21 we saw a 46% decrease in major injuries due to workplaces being shut down.
Key Health and Safety Statistics at Work for Great Britain 2021/22
- 1.8 million work-related ill health cases– this includes new and long-standing.
- 722,000 new cases of work-related ill health
- 914k work-related stress, depression, or anxiety making up 51% of work-related ill health.
- 477k work-related musculoskeletal disorder cases, 402k were categorised as ‘other type of illness’.
- 11.2 billion annual costs of new cases of ill health in 2019/2020, excluding long-latency illnesses such as cancer.
- 30.8 million working days lost due to work-related ill health and non-fatal workplace injury.
- 100k employees suffering from coronavirus believe they were explored to it at work.
- 600 thousand employees suffering from a work-related illness felt the effects were worse due to the coronavirus pandemic, adding the pandemic may have caused the illness.
- £18.8 billion annual financial impact of work-related injury and new cases of ill health, this excludes long latency illness i.e., cancer.
- 600 thousand employees sustained a non-fatal injury.
- 123 employees were killed in work-related accidents.
- 12,000 lung disease deaths each year are estimated to be linked to past exposure at work.
- £7.6 billion annual cost for work-related injuries
The Role of Health and Safety Consultants
Our health and safety consultants, juggle a variety of responsibilities, all pivoting around one central goal – ensuring a safe working environment for all employees. This includes risk assessment, employee training, safety protocol design, and guiding your business to implement safety measures.
As health and safety consultants, we wear many hats. We are not just compliance officers checking boxes; we are educators raising awareness about safety, strategists designing personalised safety protocols, and advocates for a safety-conscious culture within the organisation.
One of our primary responsibilities is to keep ourselves up to date with the latest industry-specific safety standards, regulations, and best practices. This knowledge allows us to guide businesses in developing and maintaining an environment where safety is at the forefront of everyone’s mind. We help identify potential hazards, develop strategies to reduce risks, comply with UK health and safety laws, and promote a healthy and safe working environment.
The Importance of Health and Safety in the Workplace
The significance of health and safety in the workplace surpasses industries and sectors, touching upon multiple aspects of a business.
Protection from Hazards: The primary objective of health and safety measures is to safeguard employees from potential hazards. These hazards could range from physical risks such as falls, cuts, burns, or exposure to harmful substances, to psychological risks including stress, bullying, and harassment. Proper health and safety practices reduce risks, creating a safe working environment for employees.
Legal Obligations: Businesses are legally obligated to adhere to certain health and safety regulations in the UK, with non-compliance leading to severe legal consequences, including hefty fines and potential incarceration. Furthermore, businesses may face liability suits for accidents or injuries stemming from negligence or inadequate safety measures.
Productivity Boost: A safe working environment, naturally promotes high morale and increases employee productivity. Employees who feel their health and safety are prioritised are more likely to be satisfied with their jobs, leading to higher engagement and productivity levels.
Reduced Costs: The financial consequences of workplace accidents and occupational illnesses are substantial. They result in direct costs such as medical expenses and compensation, and indirect costs like loss of working hours and a potential drop in employee morale. Being proactive with robust health and safety measures helps businesses reduce financial implications.
Brand Reputation: A strong health and safety record is a valuable asset. Companies known for their dedication to employee safety attract and retain quality employees, earn customer loyalty, and maintain a positive brand reputation. This reputation can be a significant factor in attracting potential investors and partnerships. Stakeholders will not want to be associated with UK businesses failing to follow legislation, association with the company may have negative impacts on their personal reputation.
Fostering a Culture of Safety
A critical part of as health and safety consultants revolves around fostering a culture of safety in a business. A culture of safety is one where every individual, from the highest executive to the newest recruit, understands, and adheres to health and safety legislation.
Cultivating this culture is an ongoing process involving regular training sessions to keep employees informed about safety protocols and procedures, open communication lines for reporting and discussing safety issues, and empowering every employee to play an active role in maintaining their personal safety and the safety of their colleagues.
This culture doesn’t happen overnight. It requires consistent reinforcement of safety messages, recognition and reward for safe practices, and a top-down approach where leaders’ model safe behaviour.
The role of health and safety consultants is pivotal in nurturing the well-being of all individuals in a business including 3rd parties visiting the premises. By proactively investing in health and safety measures, businesses are setting the foundation for a resilient, productive, and positive work environment.
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