Embedding health and safety

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Adam Bernstein considers the important matter of not just having health and safety policies in place, but making sure they are adhered to

It’s one thing to have health and safety policies, but it’s quite another for employees to adhere to them. For many employers, health and safety compliance involves a combination of warnings and staff worries about job loss or prosecution. But is there a better way? Could employees be ‘taught’ to want to comply rather than be beaten around the head with a stick?

The data speaks

The problem, according to James Lowe, regulatory partner at Wright Hassall LLP, is that while workers do not intend to harm to themselves or others, there are hundreds of thousands of workplace injuries reported each year. He cites 2021 data from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) which counted some 400,000 non-fatal injuries in the year along with 142 fatal accidents. Interestingly, the numbers for 2019 and 2020 were worse – 600,000 and 700,000 injuries along with 147 and 111 deaths respectively.

Lowe thinks that these numbers suggest that “there is a gap between organisations having health and safety practices, and workers properly adhering to them.” He says that professionals from various disciplines investigate incidents and offer solutions to get both employers and employees to not merely to comply with rules, “but to personally embrace a positive health and safety culture.”

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