There are many reasons to invest in health and safety in the workplace. Employees are a valuable asset and not only do employers hold a moral responsibility to protect them, but it also makes good business sense.
A safe work environment increases employee wellbeing and ultimately, work satisfaction and productivity. And of course, there is also a legal duty of care to comply with.
But how much could investing in health and safety save you financially?
Fines vs. compliance
A recent study by health and safety consultants, Arinite, has revealed that investing in health and safety could save a business £75,000 plus, on fines alone.
In the UK, sentencing guidelines ensure that the fine given for a health and safety breach is significant enough for an impact to be felt by the business. Business size, number of employees exposed to the risk, and annual profit is all taken into account when determining the fine.
In 2016, the average fine for small and medium sized companies found guilty of a health and safety breach, was £115k. In comparison, cost of compliance for SMEs, ranged between £5,000 and £40,000 a year.
For larger businesses with 250 – 4,999 employees, compliance could cost up to £600,000. However, fines are much higher for larger business, easily reaching into the millions. In fact, fines reached £5 million in 2016 and continue to rise following recent changes to sentencing guidelines.
Investing in health and safety could not only help you avoid an accident entirely, but if an incident does occur, the fine will be significantly reduced if you can prove health and safety procedures were in place and the business has a good health and safety record prior to the incident.
When an accident or incident occurs, legal proceeding and fines are not the only cost accrued by the business.
Some additional costs include;
- Sick leave/replacing staff
- Loss of time and productivity
- Compensation for the employee or their family
- Hits to the businesses reputation and loss of customers
- PR costs associated with recovering image
In many countries around the world, individuals within the business found to be at fault following an accident or incident, could also receive prison sentences, and/or be removed from their position.
Therefore, health and safety breaches no longer effect just the business but also the lives of those responsible for employees. A prison sentence means a huge loss of time and a criminal record which stays with someone for the rest of their lives.
Health and Safety Compliance
So, what can be done to protect yourself and the business from health and safety breaches?
IOSH and HSE provide guidelines on how businesses can comply to legislation and avoid fines. As a basic requirement, all employers are required to carry out risk assessments and take all appropriate steps to reduce or eliminate risk.
If risks are found that could seriously injure or kill an employee, either procedures and systems must be put in place to prevent an incident, or the work should not be carried out.
How you manage the risks identified as part of your assessment, entirely depends on the type of risk, the people involved and the industry you operate in. For industry specific guidance, refer to the HSE website.
Systems and procedures
Fortunately, there are many low costs solutions available on the market that when used as part of your policy, can help you to meet your legal duty of care. These could include anything from protective clothing, harnesses, gas detectors and even tech solutions and apps.
For employees who work alone, StaySafe is an easy-to-use and cost-effective solution that could help protect you against large fines.
Lone working has increased in popularity over the last decade, yet many are yet to consider the safety challenges this brings to their employees. Uncontrolled environments and working with unkown clients or behind cosed-doors could put employees more at risk than those working in a permanent, risk assessed workplace. And if an accident or incident does occur, there are no colleagues around to offer immediate assistance.
However, lone workers should not be put at higher risk than any other employee. Lone working policies and procedures should be put in place to mitigate risks and allow lone workers to receive the same support as their colleagues.
The StaySafe Solution
The StaySafe app provides lone workers with a tool to signal for help in any situation. Whether they suffer a fall and are unable to call for help, are confronted by an aggressor or have an accident in an area with no phone signal, StaySafe ensures someone is alerted.
Our monitoring solution allows the employer to view the location and safety status of all lone workers on one screen so they can contact an employee who may be in trouble or send emergency assistance to their location.
For more information or to set up a free demo, get in contact today.