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WORKERS IN DANGER IF BUSINESSES MAKE CUTBACKS IN HEALTH AND SAFETY – WARNING FROM LEADING QC AND BRITISH SAFETY COUNCIL

As the recession tightens and businesses across the UK look at ways of reducing costs in order to stay afloat, the British Safety Council (BSC) and a leading lawyer in the field of personal injury have issued a stark warning to business leaders that reducing spend on controlling risks to workplace health and safety could endanger lives and cost companies an average of £30,000 per claim along with significant reputational damage.

“There is a danger with the credit crunch that firms will cut back on health and safety planning and implementation, leading to an increase in personal injuries at work,” says Grahame Aldous QC of 9 Gough Square Chambers, “This may provide more work for lawyers, but the reputational and internal ethos damage to firms may be considerable if they let this area of their operations go. Despite the myth of a compensation culture, personal injury claims have been reducing, but firms should not be surprised if that reverses if they let health and safety go to cut costs.”

Research conducted last year by the BSC, a leading authority on work-related health and safety, revealed that despite long established laws on health and safety, two out of three UK employees have had little or no safety training, while barely half of their bosses had arranged a safety audit or had a health and safety management system in place. The annual bill for employers in payouts and costs for accidents and injuries at work is £7.8 billion[1] which is the equivalent of £250 a second (source: HSE).

Brian Nimick, BSC Chief Executive, said: “Last year 229 people were killed at work. If businesses now choose to reduce their spending on health and safety training and management, there is a very real danger that employees are going to be at far greater risk of injury or ill health.

“Health and safety at work is about protecting people’s lives and well-being and helping to make sure that they go home to their loved ones and families at the end of the working day as fit and well as they were when they went to work that morning. Businesses need to recognise the consequences of not investing the resources necessary to prevent needless deaths and harm.”

Whether a global business, a small business, a public body or a charitable or voluntary organisation BSC is urging all organisations to ensure that their staff have the right training and information to understand and appreciate the risks they face at work and are taught how to manage the risks effectively. It is essential that workers are trained and where appropriate qualified to identify and manage the risks they face in the workplace. The legal, moral and business justification for such an approach is overwhelming.

Email: mail@britsafe.org


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