Personal injury specialist YouClaim is urging employers and employees to ensure they’re doing everything they can to reduce the risk of accidents in the workplace as businesses are spending billions of pounds each year to cover the cost of incidents. The 2017-2018 Health and Safety Executive (HSE) report shows that, although the number of injuries has gradually declined over the last five years, work-related accidents and illness cost the UK around £15 billion last year, with workplace injuries alone costing £5.2 billion. This resulted in 3.9 million lost working days due to non-fatal injuries.
Also, since the introduction of new sentencing guidelines on 1 February 2016, the value of fines collected has increased by 87%, jumping from £38.8 million in 2015-2016 to £72.6 million in 2017-2018. Manufacturing was the most fined industry (with £27 million worth of fines issued) followed by construction at £18.9 million and water supply/waste management at £5.6 million, which was a 49% increase compared to 2016-2017.
Other sectors that saw notable increases in fines were human health and social work at 150% (from £1.8 million to £4.5 million) and distribution, hotels and restaurants at 70% (from £3 million to £5.2 million).
Richard Powell, spokesperson for YouClaim, said: “For some companies, fines issued for breaches in the realm of Health and Safety could be the difference between staying in business or facing bankruptcy. Although the new penalties may seem tough, they are in place to urge companies to assess their current Health and Safety procedures and commit to further improving standards.”
Complexity of legal obligations
Research carried out by YouClaim into the findings of the HSE’s survey of managing Health and Safety in the workplace highlighted that a quarter of businesses see the complexity of legal obligations as a major difficulty in addressing issues. Related to this, 17% of organisations see the required paperwork as a difficulty, while lack of resources – either staff or time (19%), money (15%) or expertise/specialist support (10%) – is another problem.
Powell added: “Competency is the most vital skill for managing Health and Safety in the workplace. Every level of an organisation should be involved. Training directors, line managers and workers need to be more aware of risks and understand what action must be taken when a hazard arises. This will help to promote a safe and healthy workplace.”
To help raise awareness of accidents in the workplace, YouClaim has created a visual guide on the risks that many companies are missing that may increase the likelihood of an incident.
In conclusion, Powell informed Risk Xtra: “Without regular checks, a seemingly safe workplace can hide serious Health and Safety risks likely to cause harm to employees, visitors or members of the public. In reality, it may be impractical to prevent every imaginable hazard, but no-one wants to think that they could have done more if an accident were to occur.”