What is the cost of safety?

What is the cost of safety? How much does your organization spend on health and safety?

The costs of health and safety includes both the cost of compliance and the cost of things going wrong – for example, how much do you spend on people being off sick with a case of work related ill-health? If you sit down and add your costs up, I bet it comes to more than you think.

Many businesses owners see the cost of Health and Safety compliance as a burden, a negative on the balance sheet. But when you look at some startling statistics around the costs health and safety, you quickly realise that good, proactive health and safety management is an investment in your business. Ready to look at some stats?…..read on!

What are the costs of an enforcement action?

If something goes horribly wrong in your business then chances are the HSE will come knocking on your door. Don’t forget, its a legal requirement to report certain incidents, diseases and dangerous occurrences to the HSE (check out the RIDDOR regs) so you are literally inviting them in. On top of that, HSE Inspectors have the power to walk in to any workplace at any time, and if they find anything wrong they may choose to take action against you.

From enforcement data released by the HSE, the following actions were taken in the year 2020/2021

Enforcement actions taken by HSE in 2020 / 2021

Improvement Notices Issued1,821
Immediate Prohibition Notices Issued1,107
Successful prosecutions resulting in a conviction185

Fines handed down by courts following successful H&S conviction 2020 / 2021

Number of ConvictionsTotal finesAverage fine per conviction
Business Services14£3,384,085£241,720
Other industries29£4,508,284£155,458
All Industries185£26,878,665£145,290

If you face a prosecution, this can result in a fine, a suspended sentence or even an immediate custodial sentence depending on the nature of the breach of health and safety law that you are prosecuted for. The HSE have set out sentencing guidelines for the courts for health and safety cases so that punishments are applied consistently.

Sentencing outcomes by type of conviction secured by HSE in 2020 / 2021 to illustrate cost of safety article

As well as potential fines, you need to take into account all the other costs that rack up when facing a HSE investigation. You will have to consider the amount of manhours spent on cooperating with the HSE, doing your own internal investigations and paying people like solicitors, insurers and outside consultants helping you with the case. Add on to this the inevitable loss of morale in the workforce and reduces productivity and the costs soon add up.

Fees For Intervention (FFI)

If you are found to have breached health and safety law, the HSE have the power to charge you for their time under an arrangement called Fees For Intervention (FFI). A fee is payable to HSE if:

  • a person is contravening or has contravened health and safety law; and
  • an inspector is of the opinion that the person is or has done so, and notifies the person in writing of that opinion.

The current FFI rate is £163 per hour and the HSE will charge you for all the time they have spent carrying out their investigations, helping you put things right, building their case against you and the time for taking action, eg attending court hearings.

If you are found not to have broken health and safety law, you will not face any fees for intervention.

What is the cost of H&S failures to Britain?

If somebody is hurt at work, there are not only costs to the employer to think about. We also need to consider the costs to individuals and to society in general.

HSE use a Costs to Britain model to estimate the financial burden to the wider society of health and safety failures in the workplace. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the impact on finances overall, the HSE last published their Costs to Britain model for the 2018 / 2019 financial year. The Cost to Britain model considers the costs to individuals, costs to Government and costs to employers. Costs included in each category are:

Cost to Individuals:

  • loss of employment income
  • estimated monetary value of the impact of quality and loss of life of affected workers

Cost to Government

  • NHS costs
  • Loss of tax revenue
  • Benefits payments

Costs to Employers

  • productivity costs (loss of working hours, replacing equipment or staff, loss of morale)
  • enforcement action
  • increased insurance premiums

From the HSE Costs to Britain model in 2018 / 2019, the total cost of workplace injury and ill-health was £16.2 billion. It was also found that individuals bore the most of these costs:

Individuals£9.6 bn
Government£3.5 bn
Employers£3.2 bn
Total Costs£16.2 bn

Of the £16.2 billion, 66% or £10.6 billion of this cost was due to ill-health cases (new cases) caused or made work by work, and 34% or £5.6 billion was due to workplace injuries, including fatalities.

This breaks down as:

Total number of casesTotal costs to societyAverage cost per case
Work related ill-health559,000£10.6 bn£19,000
Fatalities and injuries610,000£5.6 bn
– fatalities (134)£1.7 million
– work related injuries£8,800

What are the costs of Health and Safety compliance?

Looking after health and safety in your organisation is an investment that contributes to the overall success of your business. Getting things wrong can not only have a human impact, but it can bring a company to the point of bankruptcy – and you don’t need to wait for a HSE prosecution for that to happen!

It is difficult to estimate the overall financial impact of poor safety management as a lot of the impacts can be hidden. Some of the hidden costs of poor safety management might include lack of morale, and therefore productivity in your workforce; high staff turnover; failure to recruit the best people; suppliers and clients choosing not to work with you; and so on and so on.

So how much does it cost to get things right when it comes to health and safety? Well that all depends on the type of work you do, the size of your organisation, and the risks associated with the work that you do.

In the early 2000’s the HSE commissioned some research looking at the cost of compliance with health and safety regulations in SME’s (check out the research report here). Through a series of questionnaires and visits, they calculated the average spend on health and safety by different sizes of organisations. These costs are based on 2001 costs, but have been corrected for inflation here.

Average spend on H&S by organisation size to illustrate cost of safety article

The main areas of spending for small and medium sized business when it comes to health and safety compliance include:

  • costs of employee time
  • training of personnel
  • equipment
  • H&S consultant fees or costs of employing a designated H&S person
  • provision of PPE

This research shows that small businesses spend on average £6,270 per annum on H&S compliance (adjusted for 2021 costs) and medium businesses spend on average £41, 455 per annum (adjusted for 2021 costs. Comparing the cost of compliance against the cost to individuals, employers and society in general show that good health and safety management is indeed an investment in your business.

So, what is the key message to take away?

Protecting the health and safety of your workers and anyone who may be affected by your organisations activities is a key function of any business. Not only is it a legal requirement and right thing to do, it also makes great financial sense. The costs of getting things right is far cheaper than the costs associated when things go wrong.

Want to understand more about the costs of managing safely and the positive impacts it will have on your business?

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PPE Regs Update 6th April 2022

Are you aware of the upcoming PPE regs update? The existing PPE regulations are being amended on 6th April 2022, when the Personal Protective Equipment at Work (Amendment) Regulations 2022 will come in to force. These regs are commonly known as PPER 2022.

These changes may impact your business, depending on how you engage your workers.

What are the changes to the PPE Regs?

The current regulations places a duty on every employer to provide PPE is provided to employees where required, and to make sure that employees have sufficient information, instruction and training on the use of PPE. who may be exposed to a risk to their health or safety while at work.

PPER 2022 extends these duties to all workers, and defines a “worker” as an individual who has entered into or works under: 

(a) a contract of employment; or

(b) any other contract, whether express or implied and (if it is express) whether oral or in writing, whereby the individual undertakes to do or perform personally any work or services for another party.

Generally, workers who come under definition (b) are those who:

  • carry out casual or irregular work for one or more organisations
  • after 1 month of continuous service, receive holiday pay but not other employment rights such as the minimum period of statutory notice
  • only carry out work if they choose to
  • have a contract or other arrangement to do work or services personally for a reward (the contract doesn’t have to be written) and only have a limited right to send someone else to do the work, for example swapping shifts with someone on a pre-approved list (subcontracting)
  • are not in business for themselves (they do not advertise services directly to customers who can then also book their services directly)

Please note: these changes do not apply to those who have a ‘self-employed’ status.

Hard hat to illustrate article PPE reg update

What do the PPER 2022 changes mean for employers?

Employers with only type (a) workers

No change, continue to comply with the requirements and responsibilities of the existing PPE regs.

Employers with both type (a) and type (b) workers

From 6th April 2022, ensure there is no difference in the way that PPE is provided to workers, whether they are type (a) or type (b). PPE must be provided free of charge, and all workers must use the PPE properly following training and and instruction from the employer.

For employers with only type (b) workers

From 6th April 2022, ensure that your workers are provided with PPE, where your risk assessments show that PPE is needed.

Employers must ensure suitable PPE is:

  • provided free of charge
  • compatible with other PPE and work equipment
  • maintained
  • correctly stored
  • used properly

You will also need to provide training and instruction in its use to all your workers.

Need any support and guidance on the PPE regs update and how they impact you and your workers?

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Is fatigue a health and safety issue in your workplace

Is fatigue a health and safety issue in your workplace?

Fatigue is an all-too common complaint, but have you ever stopped to consider the effect of fatigue on health and safety in your workplace?

What do you need to know about the effect of fatigue on people at work? And more importantly, how can you manage fatigue at work?

What is fatigue?

We all feel tiredness every day, hopefully right before our bedtime so we can drift off easily into dream-land, but fatigue is something else.

While there is no official definition of what fatigue is, it is useful to recognise that fatigue is a decline in mental and / or physical performance that results from prolonged exertion, sleep loss, disruption of a persons body clock, certain medical conditions or other personal factors.

Fatigue is to-the-bone tiredness, its a state of mental and physical exhaustion, of just not being able to function. We’ve probably all felt it from time to time, and it can be brought on by stressful life events, or relentless ‘busyness’.

In fact we have a tendency to dismiss tiredness and fatigue because it is so common – but did you realised that fatigue is a major health and safety hazard that all employers have to factor in when deciding what they need to do to keep people safe at work?

Who is at risk of fatigue?

Many factors can lead to a person feeling fatigued. Some of the more common factors are:

  • shift work, with disruptive shift patterns
  • performing a task for extended periods of time, or repeatedly performing a tedious task
  • getting less than 7 hours sleep per night
  • untreated sleep disorders such as sleep apnoea or other medical conditions
  • caring for young children or people who need around-the-clock care
  • taking certain medications that interfere with sleep
  • disordered sleep due to personal factors, such as stress, menopause or poor home conditions
Cartoon man exhausted and needing winding up

Is fatigue a safety at work issue?

Tiredness and fatigue are absolutely health and safety issues. Fatigue is a hazard that needs to be considered in your risk assessments when deciding the controls you need to put in place to ensure your people are keeping safe and well at work.

The HSE says that fatigue has been identified as a major root cause in some of the biggest disasters, such as Chernobyl and the Clapham Junction rail crash. They estimate that fatigue costs the UK £115 – £240 million per year in terms of workplace accidents.

Fatigue can have many affects on a person, and can result in things like:

  • lack of attention
  • slower reactions
  • reduced co-ordination
  • decreased awareness
  • underestimation of risk
  • memory lapses or absent mindedness
  • reduced ability to process information

All of these affects can significantly increase the chance of something going wrong, potentially leading to serious accidents or injury.

What can employers do to help workers combat fatigue?

There are many steps employers can take to help workers manage their levels of fatigue at work – whether the fatigue is caused by work factors or by something happening in your workers personal life.

For shift working, the HSE publish a great guide to help you identify fatigue hazards and decide what you can do to reduce the risks associated with it – check out HSG 256 Managing Shift Work

Where a worker has told you about any personal factors such as a health condition that may impact their levels of fatigue and their ability to carry out their usual tasks, see what reasonable adjustments you can make to make sure you are treating the worker fairly, and that they and others in the workplace are protected from risks. Reasonable adjustments might be things like altering a working pattern, allowing people to work from home, introducing a flexible work pattern, etc.

Some of the general measures that can be taken in all workplaces to reduce the risks associated with fatigue include:

  • planning workloads appropriate to the length and timings of the working day / shift
  • where reasonably practicable, schedule a variety of tasks to be done by the worker during their working day / shift
  • avoid demanding, safety critical tasks at night or towards the end of a long working day
  • limit consecutive work days to a maximum of 5 to 7 days, and allow adequate rest time between working days
  • make sure team members are aware of the risks associated with fatigue, and how to spot it in themselves and others
  • encourage open and honest chat about fatigue levels, and the need to adapt work if needed. Make sure that banter around tiredness being seen as a weakness is discouraged.

So, what’s the key message to take away?

Fatigue in the workplace can contribute significantly to overall safety performance, and is a serious health concern. Be sure to consider both preventing fatigue when designing work patterns and job roles, and to consider fatigue as a hazard when carrying out your risk assessments. Pay extra attention to levels of fatigue in your workers during busy times, and be sure to consider your workers personal circumstances particularly if they come to you with their own concerns.

Want to find out more about the impact of fatigue on the health and safety profile of your workplace, and understand what you can do about it?

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Managing Covid-19 in 2022

Managing Covid-19 risks in 2022

We are all used to managing Covid-19 risks in the workplace now, it has been something we have had to deal with for the last two years. The recent easing of restrictions, and the changes in guidance (again!) in working safely during coronavirus may once again get employers tearing their hair out in frustration. One thing is for certain, Covid-19 is not going away in a hurry, so we need to ensure we control the risks of transmission in the workplace to protect our people.

Are employers managing Covid-19 risks successfully?

The Health and Safety Statistics 2021 released in December 2021 by the HSE gave the first reported numbers for the effects of Covid-19 in the workplace. They numbers report were:

Covid-19 statistics for work related cases 2021

These numbers relate to the very first year of the Covid-19 pandemic, accounting for the period between April 2020 to March 2021.

Of the 93,00 workers who believe they caught Covid-19 at work, around half of those worked in human health and social work activities. No reliable data has been gathered for other industries as the sample sizes were too small (ref https://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/coronavirus).

The 645,000 workers who reported a work-related illness caused or made worse by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic include ill-health cases that may not be a Covid-19 infection. From the HSE Technical Report, this number is made up of people who have had any work-related condition made worse, including things like musculoskeletal problems, work-related stress, work-related breathing problems not due to Covid-19. Some examples of how coronavirus pandemic may have made work-related ill-health cases worse are include in the technical report, and include:

  • an existing musculoskeletal condition made work by a change in working conditions, such as working from home at a temporary workstation.
  • a case of stress, depression or anxiety caused or made worse because of the uncertainty in work arising from the pandemic.
  • a new or existing case of asthma that has been made worse by Covid-19 that the worker believes was contracted at work.

These numbers shows that Covid-19 affects not just those who contract Covid-19 as a result of workplace transmission, it also affects people dealing with underlying health conditions, new ways of working, and we have to look to protect the overall wellbeing of our people.

Covid-19 virus

Managing Covid-19 transmission risks in the workplace

Covid-19 will be with us for a long time to come, so we need to make sure that we continue to manage the risks of transmission in the workplace. A key part of this is keeping up with the latest Government guidance on working safely during coronavirus, so make sure you have somebody in your organisation is responsible for this, and for implementing the controls set out in the guidance.

As we (hopefully) move from the pandemic to the endemic phase of Covid-19, we need to keep controls in place to minimise the risk of transmission of the virus. The good news is that the controls are, in the most part, relatively simple. Things you need to keep doing include:

Risk assessment – think about how Covid-19 can be transmitted in your workplace, and put controls in place to minimise the risk of transmission. This means you need to either have a Covid-19 risk assessment in place, or include the risk of transmission of Covid-19 in your general workplace assessments.

Ventilation – good ventilation in the workplace significantly reduces the risk of transmission. Check all your working areas, and ensure you are getting a good flow of air through. If you find any poorly ventilated areas take steps to improve the airflow – you may just need simple steps like making sure you open a window for ten minutes every hour.

Cleaning – continue to identify any touch points in your workplace (eg door handles, light switches) and clean them frequently. Ask all staff and visitors to clean their hands frequently, and provide hand sanitiser.

Cleaning to illustrate article managing covid-19 in 2022

Prevent contact – do not expect or allow people with Covid-19 symptoms to come to your place of work. If staff show signs of Covid-19, ask them to stay at home and to carry out a Covid-19 test. If the result is positive, they must follow the isolation guidance in place at the time. Employers must support their workers if they are required to self-isolate.

Check-in – while it is no longer compulsory to check in to venues, it is good practise to ask your workers, visitors and customers to check in your site. You do not have to turn people away if they refuse, but it can be helpful information to pass on to test and trace if you have an outbreak in your place of work.

Communicate – as with all other health and safety considerations at work, communication is key. Make sure your workers understand the steps you are taking to keep them safe, and be open and responsive to questions and reasonable requests. The last two years have been difficult for everyone, and maintaining strong two-way communication between employers and workers can go a long way to ensure your risk controls are followed and to improve moral in the workplace.

In addition to this, you need to plan what you will do in the event of an outbreak at work. Now that the work from home requirement has been lifted, many people are going back to the workplace. Make sure you and your people know the steps you will take if you get a number of cases reported at work.

What about non-Covid related risks?

Remember that you also continue to have a duty to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of your employees from non-Covid related risks. If people have not been in the workplace for a long time, you may need to think about reminding your workers of your workplace health and safety arrangements and consider carrying out fire drills and practising other emergency arrangements to test that everything still works effectively. Check out the type of risk assessments and health and safety arrangements you may need to consider here.

You will also need to be mindful of the impact on your workers mental wellbeing. Many people have been impacted badly with the effects of the pandemic, from losing loved ones, dealing with long-covid, social isolation and uncertainty. Coming back in to the workplace may be another challenge to an already challenging situation. Take care to support your workers, listen to them, make accommodations (where possible) and help to ease any anxieties people may be feeling by being back at work.

Want to learn more about how you can continue to manage Covid-19 risks in the workplace?

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Cover image for article how do I carry out a risk assessment

How do I carry out a risk assessment?

“How do I carry out a risk assessment? “

“Can I do it myself, or does a health and safety person need to do the risk assessment?”

“Do I really need a risk assessment?”

These are three questions that I get asked quite frequently. I’ll deal with them in reverse order:

3. Yes, you probably do need a risk assessment. But the good news is it shouldn’t be a challenging exercise, its just a matter of thinking about what you are doing and how you are going to do it safely.

2. Yes, very often you can do the risk assessment yourself. It is preferable for the people who know the work and are familiar with the tasks in hand to carry out risk assessments, rather than somebody who hasn’t got the right experience for an assessment to be suitable and sufficient. Oftentimes risk assessments are carried out by people familiar with the tasks with additional support from a health and safety professional.

1. There is a well established process for carrying out all risk assessments. The actual content of the risk assessment will change depending on the nature of the assessment what is being looked at, but the simple 5 steps to risk assessment holds in all cases. Check out the types of risk assessment you might need here.

Why do I need to carry out a risk assessment?

A simple answer to this question is because the law requires you to! The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 say that we have to make a suitable and sufficient assessment of risks, and reduce those risks so far as is reasonably practicable.

There’s a couple of phrases in the above paragraph that we need to understand:

suitable and sufficient – this means that you need make a proper check to identify and deal with all risks, you need to consult with the people affected, you need to put controls in place to reduce the risk so far as is reasonably practicable. Remember you are only expected to identify foreseeable risks.

so far as is reasonably practicable – in the vast majority of cases, we are required by law to reduce the risk to a level that we are happy to live with, rather than to the absolute lowest level of risk that can be technically achieved. This means when deciding our risk control measures, we need to balance the overall reduction in risk against the time, cost and trouble in putting the risk control measure in place. In reality, if something is mega-expensive to do, causes a huge amount of trouble and the risk reduction after the control is put in place, we can argue that it would not be reasonably practicable to do so. I’ll explore this concept further in a future article, but for now check out the HSE page on this subject.

From a practical sense, we carry out risk assessments so that we can methodically think through a job or situation, and put things in place to keep people safe. When done correctly a risk assessment is a great planning tool, and guides your working methods and procedures. Risk assessments are carried out by everyone in their everyday life, just think about crossing the road – the green cross code is one of the first formal risk assessment that we all learnt as kids.

risk assessment table

What are the five steps to risk assessment?

Before we deep dive into carrying out a risk assessment, we first need to define what we are assessing. I like to think about this as setting the boundary’s of the assessment, specifying what the assessment covers and limiting how far the assessment goes.

The key things to understand and specifiy are:

  • the location where the work is carried out
  • the people who may be affected (workers, contractors, visitors, members of the public, etc.)
  • the equipment used
  • all different activities involved

When you have defined these things, you are ready to start on the risk assessment it itself, buy following the 5 steps to risk assessment approach

Step 1 – Identify the hazardsA hazard is anything that has potential to cause harm. At this stage you don’t rule anything out, you need to consider all hazards no matter how unlikely you think that hazard may cause harm.

Have a look at the physical layout of the work area, the tools, equipment and substances involved, and how routine and non-routine tasks are carried out. Ask the people involved in the work, they are best place to help you identify the hazards.
Step 2 – Identify who might be harmed and howYou need to include anyone who may be affected by the work activities in these considerations, not just your workers. We need to think about how members of the public, contractors or visitors can be harmed.

We also need to think about special classes of people who may need some additional risk control measures. People like new and expectant mothers, young persons and people with underlying / ongoing health conditions who may be at particular risk.

At this stage you can do an initial estimation of the risk levels with the existing controls in place for each of the hazards you identified in step 1.
Step 3 – Evaluate the riskLooking at the risk estimates from step 2, you need to decide which risks are currently acceptable and which ones you need to take steps to reduce the level of risk to people.

When deciding which additional risk control measures, you need to work through the hierarchy of risk controls to see which measures you can use to reduce the level of risk, so far as is reasonably practicable.
Step 4 – Record your findingsYou are required to record the significant findings of your risk assessment.

The significant findings will not include trivial risks, but will include the hazards you have identified, how people might be harmed, and the risk control measures in place to prevent harm.

Remember the purpose of the risk assessment is to guide people in keeping the workplace as safe as possible, so the risk assessment needs to be clear and concise, accessible to those who may need it, and easy to understand.

If you have fewer than five employees in your organisation you do not need to record your findings, but it is very useful to do so.
Step 5 – Review the risk assessmentFor the risk assessments to remain relevant, we need to review them periodically. You must always review your risk assessment if anything you have based your assessment on changes – for example if you have new equipment, changed working methods, after an accident or incident, or if new learning comes to light that influences the decisions made when carrying out the original assessment.

If you have no other reason to review your assessment, you must do so periodically to make sure you capture any changes that may have been missed. In most cases it is up to the assessor to determine the intervals between periodic reviews.

We’ve done the risk assessment – what next?

Carrying out a risk assessment is not the end of the process. For the assessment to have value it needs to be communicated to everyone who is affected by it, and the controls identified incorporated into every-day working practices.

Remember the goal of a risk assessment isn’t to have a box ticked, or a nice document filed away somewhere – it is to make sure we can work safely, and reduce the risk of people getting harmed at work to a level that we are happy to tolerate.

Want to talk more about risk assessments and how you can protect your people from harm?

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image of volunteer to illustrate article protecting the health and safety of volunteers

Protecting the health and safety of volunteers – what you need to know.

Protecting the health and safety of your volunteers is vitally important. Not only do we have a legal duty of care towards volunteers, just as we would any other type of worker, we also have a moral duty of care to protect those individuals who give up their free time to help out when they can.

A recent article in the IOSH Magazine has highlighted the importance of protecting volunteers safety after some recent prosecutions brought about after volunteers have been hurt.

Does health and safety legislation apply to volunteers?

This isn’t a clear-cut yes or no answer, but if we start from a default position of ‘YES’ then you won’t go far wrong.

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSWA) and regulations enacted under it applies to your organisation if you have at least one employee. The duties under the act apply to both your organisations employees and anyone who may be affected by your organisations activities – that certainly includes volunteers.

image of health and safety law documentto illustrate article protecting the health and safety of volunteers

If your organisation has no direct employees, the Health and Safety at Work Act may still apply – for example, if your volunteers are in control of a non-domestic premises (eg village hall) or buys-in or controls construction work then health and safety law applies.

If your organisation has no employees and is run solely by volunteers then the Health and Safety at Work Act will not normally apply to you. This means that you are not subject to criminal law in fulfilling your health and safety duties, however you will still have duties under civil law.

Voluntary organisations and individuals who are volunteering have a duty of care under civil law to protect themselves or anyone else who may be affected by their activities. This duty of care, and meeting that duty, largely reflects the requirements of health and safety law. So even if your organisation is not covered by the Health and Safety at Work Act, by complying with it requirements and the requirements of those regulations made under the act, you will – in the vast majority of cases – be discharging your duty of care.

Remember – a breach of the Health and Safety at Work act is a criminal offence, and those that breach the act can be subject to fines and / or imprisonment. Breaching your duty of care is a civil offence, and breaching your duty may result in an injured party suing for damages through the civil courts and may result in you having to pay compensation.

Managing risks to volunteers

image risk spelled out in wooden blocks to illustrate article protecting the health and safety of volunteers

The best way to manage risks to your volunteers is to treat them just like any other employee of any other organisation.

Under the Health and Safety at Work Act, organisations need to have the following in place:

  • Health and Safety Policy
  • Arrangements for putting your policy into practice
  • Risk assessments, identify all risks to your people and what you need to do to control those risks
  • Emergency plans, such as first aid arrangements, fire plans, accident reporting and investigation, etc
  • Consultation with your employees and / or volunteers to give them opportunity to comment and feedback on your health and safety arrangements
  • Health and safety training, where needed.

All organisations, no matter what their size, are expected to have these in place. If you have 5 or more employees you must have these written down. However it is best practise for organisations to have all these arrangements documented no matter what their size – particularly in the voluntary sector where you may only have one or two employees but a large army of volunteers.

Do I need to report incidents involving volunteers?

Another question with no straightforward yes or no answer! The RIDDOR regs (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrence Regulations 2013) sets out what needs to be reported and what doesn’t, and there is some clear guidance from the HSE:

  • Fatal accidents involving volunteers are always reportable (unless they involve a road traffic accident)
  • Non-fatal incidents involving volunteers are reportable when the accident arises from work-activity, and the volunteer is taken straight from the scene of the incident to hospital for treatment.

Unlike for employees, there is no requirement to report over-7-day injuries to volunteers, as this only applies to employees.

image of person buried under cardboard boxes to illustrate article protecting the health and safety of volunteers

Before deciding if you need to submit a report to the HSE or Local Authority of a serious incident or injury, you will need to check the RIDDOR regs (or talk to your friendly H&S Consultant) to understand if RIDDOR applies in your precise circumstances.

So, what is the key message to take away.

Looking after the health and safety of your volunteers is paramount. People who freely give their time and efforts to help others will need to feel safe and protected while carrying out their activities. Managing health and safety and protecting your volunteers does not need to be an onerous task, and by taking time to put some simple health and safety measures in place you will make sure you protect your people, retain your volunteers, and have a positive impact on the reputation and performance of your voluntary organisation.

Want to talk about the simple things voluntary organisations can put in place to keep people safe?

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2020/21 health and safety statistics

2021 Health and Safety Statistics

In December 2021 the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) released the summary of the 2021 health and safety statistics for the year April 2020 to March 2021. These statistics are of particular interest this year, as they cover the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, and allow us to get an idea of how the changes made during the pandemic may have had an effect on health and safety performance at work.

This article looks as some of the headline statistics, and the full report is available on the HSE website.

Where do the statistics come from?

All of the statistics come from self-reports made either under the RIDDOR regs or gathered from the Labour Force Survey.

RIDDOR reports

The RIDDOR regs (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrence Regulations 2013) place an duty on employers to report certain accidents, ill-health cases and dangerous occurrences to the HSE. These reports are used in compiling these statistics.

Labour Force Survey

The Labour Force Survey (LFS) is carried out every year by the Office of National Statistics (ONS). This survey samples a random selection of the UK population and asks a wide range of social and economic questions, including health and safety at work related questions. The responses to the LFS are then used by government and public bodies to influence policy thinking and direct resources. More information can be found about the labour force survey on the ONS website.

2020/21 health and safety statistics workplace injury rates

2020/21 Fatalities

There were a total of 142 work related fatalities in 2020/21. This number is roughly in line with the number of fatalities recorded in recent years, with a general downward trend.

In addition to this, there were 60 members of the public killed as a result of work activities in 2020/21.

2020/21 health and safety statistics showing the number of fatalities by accident type

The most common cause of fatal injury were falls from height, with 35 people killed. This has been the leading cause of work related fatalities for a number of years, and means that 3 people a month are killed from falls.

The second and third causes are struck by a moving vehicle (25 people) and struck by a moving object (17 people).

Note that these numbers do not include people at work killed in a road traffic accident.

2020/21 Work-related injuries

There were 51,211 RIDDOR reportable injuries recorded in 2020/21. This number continues to fall year-on-year although there was a sharper rate of decrease in 2020/21.

2020/21 health and safety statistics RIDDOR reportable injuries

In addition, there were 441,000 self-reported work-related in injuries, as reported in the Labour Force Survey. These break down to 339,000 injuries with up to 7 days absence from work, and 102,000 injuries with over 7 days absence.

2020/21 Work-related ill-health cases

850,000 new work-related ill-health cases were reported in 2020/21. Together with long-standing ill-health cases, this gives a total of 1.7 million workers suffering from work-related ill health.

2020/21 health and safety statistics showing the type of self-reported work related ill-health cases.

The leading cause of working related ill-health continues to be stress, depression and anxiety; this has been the leading cause for a while, with the rate increasing over the last few years. 451,000 workers reported a new case of work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2020/21.

Effect of Covid-19 pandemic on health and safety at work

Covid-19 has had a huge impact on the workplace throughout 2020 and 2021, and has no doubt had an impact on health, safety and wellbeing of workers across all sectors of the workforce. It is estimated that 738,000 people were affected by work-related exposure or changes due to the pandemic.

2020/21 health and safety statistics effects of covid-19 pandemic

Identifying the work-related statistics around the effect of Covid-19 is challenging, particularly when the virus is so widely in circulation in the population. The Labour Force Survey asked particular questions to estimate the number of people who believed their Covid-19 case was due to workplace exposure, and those who believed that the pandemic and the precautions we had to take (such as furlough, working from home, social isolation) made their existing work related condition worse.

Of the new and long-standing cases of work-related ill health caused or made worse by the effects of the pandemic, 70% of those cases were related to stress, depression or anxiety.

So, what’s the key message to take away?

While great progress has been made in improving workplace safety, there is still a lot of work to be done. Every one of these statistics represents a person who is affected, with the knock-on effect to their family and friends being immeasurable. As employers, we have a duty of care to protect people from work related injuries and ill-health, and we must continue to make improvements where ever we can.

Want help in preventing your people from becoming part of these statistics?

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What is the difference between workplace inspections and health and safety audit?

What is the difference between a Workplace Inspection and a Health and Safety Audit?

The terms are often used interchangeably but mean different things. So, what is the difference between a workplace inspection and a health and safety audit?

Generally speaking, a workplace inspection looks for the hazards present in the workplace and how they are controlled, and a health and safety audit looks at systems and procedures we have in place for managing safely.

What is a Workplace Inspection?

A workplace inspection looks for hazards and potential harmful practices in the workplace. It looks at all the physical equipment needed for getting a job done safely and for maintaining a safe working environment.

Magnified word inspection to illustrate article What is the difference between a Workplace Inspection and Health and Safety Audit?

Typical things looked at in a workplace inspection include:

  • General arrangements for building access
  • Fire protection measures, like fire alarm points, records of fire evacuation practices, signage, provision of extinguishers, etc.
  • Provision of first aid equipment and trained first aiders
  • Welfare arrangements such as access to toilets, eating areas, changing rooms, etc
  • Condition of the building, including lighting, heating, walkways free from obstruction
  • Condition and use of machinery
  • Condition, maintenance, and inspection of electrical systems and testing of electrical equipment
  • Provision and use of PPE in the workplace
  • Control and use of hazardous substances

…..and any other health and safety issues that you needs to keep an eye on to ensure compliance with regulatory requirements applicable to your workplace.

A workplace inspection is usually carried out using a checklist with questions framed with a ‘yes / no’ answer – either things are ok or they’re not and need addressing. A generic workplace inspection checklist can be used but you must be aware of any areas or activities in your workplace that are not included in the checklist and make sure they are looked at separately.

I recommend starting off with a generic template, then adapting it to make it specific for your organisation. That way you know that it doesn’t matter who carries out the inspection, all the areas that need to be looked at will be covered.

That brings me on to my next point – workplace inspections can be carried out by anyone in the organisation. In fact, it is beneficial to get everyone involved in carrying out inspections, that way it raises the awareness of what is needed to keep the workplace safe amongst your people. Inspections can be carried out by a small group with a H&S professional involved if needed.

Workplace inspections should be carried out frequently, with good records kept and any improvement addressed as quickly as possible. Remember if you find any defects on a workplace inspection, you have potential uncovered an area where you are not compliant with H&S regulations.

What is a Health and Safety Audit?

An audit is a look at your health and safety systems and procedures, checking to see if they are serving you well.

Highlighted word Audit to illustrate article What is the difference between a workplace inspection and a health and safety audit?

All businesses manage health and safety, whether they have a formalised Health and Safety Management System or loosely bound procedures integrated into day-to-day activities. The purpose of those systems is to make sure you are keeping your people and your business protected, and you are meeting your legal requirements. A health and safety audit lets you take a step back and look at how effective those systems are. You set your intentions and your goals; an audit tells you whether you are meeting them.

There are some formalised Health and Safety Management Systems out there, such as ISO 45001, and as part of your accreditation you will need to undertake both internal audits (ie you looking at your own systems and procedures) and external audits (typically the accrediting body coming in and having a look).

For organisations without any formal accreditations, you can still carry out health and safety audits. You could be audited against guidance such as HSG 65 Managing for health and safety to see how what you are doing compares to recommended best practise. You can also be audited against your own procedures, For example, taking your health and safety policy and checking to see if the responsibilities and arrangements set out in the policy are actually being implemented through the workplace.

Because you are checking your own systems, it can be difficult to have generic checklists to drive the audit process. Where you are auditing against a standard (eg HSG 65) it is easier to have a checklist to guide you, but when you are auditing against your organisations specific procedures you will need to identify the pertinent requirements of the procedure and generate your own audit checklist.

Audits should be planned and carried out at a frequency depending on the needs and risk profile of the business. Some organisations choose to carry out a health and safety audit once per year, but this can lead to a flurry of activity over a short period of time where H&S matters are addressed and then forgotten about for the rest of the year. I suggest an annual overall management system audit, and then picking out some critical procedures related to managing health and safety and having a closer look at those during the year.

How to use workplace inspections and health and safety audits in your workplace

Ensuring the health and safety of ourselves and others affected by our activities is a basic requirement for all businesses. We can set off with the best of intentions when it comes to managing health and safety, but we all know that those intentions can slip. Work pressures, competing priorities, and delivering for our business can mean that we take our eyes of the ball when it comes to protecting ourselves and others.

By engaging in a planned programme of workplace inspections and health and safety audits, and just as importantly, following up and completing any actions to address any shortcomings, you can make sure you are meeting your legal requirements and doing all you can to keep people safe.

  1. Have a plan for carrying out both workplace inspections and health and safety audits – make sure that people and resources are allocated to get them done. Involve people from all levels of your organisation.
  2. Communicate the plan to all the relevant people, and make sure that everyone in your workplace understands the purpose of the inspections and audits. Be careful to address any concerns about ‘the management’ looking for stuff that is being done wrong and looking for people to blame.
  3. Give your nominated inspectors and auditors time to carry out their inspections and audits. If needed, deliver training for your inspectors and auditors so that they are confident in carrying out their tasks.
  4. Make sure each inspection and audit has an action plan to address any shortcomings identified. Follow up on this plan and ensure all actions are completed by the responsible people by the due date.
  5. Arguably the most important step – communicate your findings with everyone in the workplace. Tell people what they are doing well and support them where changes are needed.

One person in your organisation to needs to be appointed to manage the inspection and audit programme (from planning to completion, monitoring actions and communicating findings). This person should be of a senior enough level to have the authority to drive the inspection and audit programme forward.

Want to chat more about workplace inspections and health and safety audits?

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Who is your Health and Safety Hero?

Who is your Health and Safety Hero?

When looking for role models and examples of best practise, who is your health and safety hero?

We all need people to admire, to look up to, to take a lead from in all walks of life. It helps us to strive to be better, to push ourselves forwards and grow – the world of health and safety is just the same.

The launch of the British Safety Council International Safety Awards 2022 campaign on the 30th September 2022 will showcase some of the organisations and people who work continuously to improve the health, safety and wellbeing standards in their workplace, and recognise the heroes who are looking after our health and safety.

But you don’t need to win awards to be a health and safety hero – there are many unsung heroes out there doing the right thing and keeping us all safe and well.

Great examples of Health and Safety Heroes

Cartoon drawing of a health and safety hero

In my job as a H&S Consultant I get to talk to, and work with, many fabulous people and organisations. There are lots of people in my professional and personal networks that I view as Health and Safety Heroes, even though they are ‘just doing their jobs’.

Some examples I can think are given below – and some of my clients and contacts may actually recognise themselves from my descriptions, but I can’t sit and list all the great things everyone I know is doing so if you know me and I missed you out, I’m sorry!

Examples of my H&S heroes are:

  • the owner of a brand new business who wants to integrate managing health and safety into everything they do from day one, and holds managing safely as one of the core values of their business.
  • the Managing Director who wants to rip up the old Health and Safety Policy and Handbook that is written in stuffy, corporate language and replace it with a new policy and handbook that is written in the company voice so that it better reflects the companies values and makes it more accessible and meaningful to their people.
  • the organisations that recognise that the last 18 months have been really tough through the Covid-19 pandemic, and are allowing people to continue to work flexibly (where the job role allows) and take steps to give reassurance and ease any anxieties about a return to the workplace.
  • the operations director who want to make sure all the equipment, work areas and storage systems are all in great shape before a new big job starts and the workplace becomes very busy
  • the financial advisor who has started visiting their clients in their own home again, who has a Covid-19 protocol that they send to clients before the visit so the clients are reassured that risks around Covid-19 transmission are minimised
  • the bosses who makes sure they don’t overload their people with tonnes of work, or ask them to carry out work they are not trained for
  • the worker who see’s one of their workmates about to do something that is not quite right and steps in to help make sure the job is done in the safest way

I could go on forever with examples of great practice that makes loads of people my health and safety hero, but I think you get the idea by now.

Be your own Hero

Cartoon image of man looking in a mirror and seeing a superhero reflection to illustrate article who is your health and safety hero.

So, apart from wearing your underpants outside of your trousers, how do you become your own health and safety hero?

There are loads of small ways that stack-up for you be a hero.

  • hold keeping you and others safe and well as a core value – it is part of everything you are and everything you do.
  • set the standards you want to see – make sure you expect the same standards of yourself as you do from others
  • remember that you accept the standards that you are prepared to walk by – in other words, if you see an unsafe act, unsafe behaviour or unsafe situation and you do nothing about it you are saying that it is acceptable.
  • include talking about health, safety and wellbeing in all aspects of your working life – it’s not a separate subject, its just part of who we are and how we act.
  • use clear, jargon-free, simple language. You don’t even have to use the dreaded words ‘health and safety’
  • make sure you have two-way conversations about peoples health, safety and wellbeing. Nobody likes safety being ‘done to them’, allow people to have a voice, and if they do raise concerns and questions make sure you follow them up with meaningful answers.

The list can go on and on…….. I’m sure you’ve got some great examples of being your own hero.

And never forget, if you have any questions or concerns, you can always talk with your friendly health and safety professional for advice and support – not all heroes wear capes, sometimes we wear hi-vis!

Want to talk to your friendly health and safety professional?

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Title image for article taking care of fire doors

Taking care of fire doors

Fire doors are a vital bit of safety kit in our buildings, but many of us don’t pay them much attention. They are just there, get walked through every day, get bashed about a bit, propped open when they shouldn’t be and generally get neglected. Fire doors should be looked after – they may be our last line of defence against smoke, heat and fire in a burning building. We need to show them a bit of love, so what do you need to know when taking care of fire doors?

What do fire doors do?

It is a legal requirement for all non-domestic properties (eg businesses, commercial premises and public buildings) to have fire doors, but do you know why?

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 places a duty on those responsible for premises to manage fire safety precautions. The responsible person will need to make sure that a fire risk assessment is in place and suitable controls measures put in place. Fire doors form part of that overall protection.

Fire doors are a passive safety measure, they protect you just by being there! But to get the level of protection intended we need to make sure they are used properly, and that we take care of them.

They key function of a fire door is to:

  • slow down the spread of fire within a building
  • slow down the spread of smoke, heat and fire onto escape routes
  • protect particularly vulnerable areas of the building, eg server rooms or storage rooms containing combustible materials
  • create compartments within the building, and provide a minimum of 30 minutes resistance to fire in a compartmentalised area

What are common faults with fire doors?

Fire doors need to form a barrier between different areas of a building. To do that, they need to be of sound construction, form a good seal in the frame and be used in an appropriate manner – ie not propped open (often with a fire extinguisher!).

Common faults to look out for on fire doors are:

  1. If seals are fitted (often not found on older fire doors) they can be damaged, installed incorrectly or not filling the gaps.
  2. no mandatory signage identifying the fire door
  3. excessive gaps between the door and the frame
  4. unsuitable or damaged hinges
  5. damage to the door itself

What do I need to do to take care of fire doors?

Your fire risk assessment will determine what controls you need to put in place to manage fire protection in your premises. One of those controls should be to regularly inspect your fire doors. This will allow you to spot any defects quickly and get them rectified so that you can rely on the protection in the event of a fire.

When deciding how often to check the fire doors, you need to pay particular attention to those doors on high traffic routes and those most likely to suffer damage. You can carry out regular checks yourself (on a weekly or monthly basis, for example) but you must periodically have the fire doors inspection by a trained and competent person. Again, your fire risk assessment will guide you on the frequency of a fire door inspection, but I suggest it is done at least annually, or more frequently if needed.

What do I need to look at when checking fire doors?

  1. Check the gaps around the top and sides of the door are less than 4mm when closed.

2. Check the door has a working door closure system, and closes correctly

3. Check that intumescent seals (if fitted) are intact with no sign of damage

4. Check the door has 3 hinges, and they are in a good state of repair.

5. Check any vision panels are free from damage.

6. Check the door furniture allows the door to close firmly into the frame.

7. Check the door has correctly fitted mandatory signage.

Remember – your fire doors will only protect you if you show them a little love!!

If you need any further help in taking care of your fire doors or managing fire safety in your premises, then please get in touch.

This article was published as part of Fire Door Safety Week 2021

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