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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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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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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