Organisations have a legal duty of care requirement to ensure that their work environment is safe for all their employees. Serious injuries suffered by an employee could result in them being unable to work for months. So what is the true cost of workplace injuries?
Statistics released by the HSE revealed that 137 workers suffered a fatal injury at work in one year. Meanwhile, there were over 600,000 cases of non-fatal injuries to workers, according to the Labour Force Survey (2016/17). Some of the main causes of non-fatal workplace injuries were due to:
- Slip, trip or fall (29%)
- Lifting/handling (22%)
- Struck by object (10%)
Ill Health and Sickness
Along with injuries, issues such as work-related stress, depression, anxiety and even musculoskeletal disorders lead towards employee ill-health. This concurrently results in working days lost and the HSE has reported that 31.2 million days were lost due to staff sickness in 2016/17.
Taking all of the above into consideration, the HSE estimates that the annual cost of work-related injury and ill-health is £14.9 billion. According to the HSE, this total figure comes from both the financial and human costs, “Financial costs cover loss of output, healthcare costs and other payments made. Meanwhile, human costs are the monetary valuation given to pain, grief, suffering and loss of life”.
Workplace injuries and ill-health suffered by employees, can have a serious impact on their productivity, performance and even their personal well-being. Failing to protect the safety of employees could result in lost output, compensation claims, increased insurance premiums and hefty fines incurred by the organisation. 554 cases of health and safety failings, were prosecuted by the HSE in 2016/17, where a conviction was achieved. The overall fines resulting from the prosecutions, were a staggering £69.9 million in 2016/17 (HSE).
This was in fact the first full year where the new sentencing guidelines came into full effect. Which means large organisations could face over £20 million in fines for the most serious of health and safety offences. These fines have been increased to create awareness for organisations on the importance of protecting the safety of all their staff, including the more vulnerable lone working employees.
Organisations should conduct a robust risk assessment to help avoid accidents and work-related ill health. Risk assessments would also help identify the key risks or hazards of each job role, thus helping to protect the safety of each employee. Employers can follow the simple 5 step risk assessment, as advised by the HSE:
- Identify the hazards
- Decide who might be harmed and how
- Evaluate the risk and decide on precautions
- Record your findings and implement them
- Review your assessment and update if necessary
The cost of implementing a risk assessment and general health & safety measures at work would be far cheaper than the fine an organisation could face, especially now that the new sentencing guideline is in full effect. It’s clearly evident that ensuring the safety of all employees at work would help to reduce overall workplace accidents along with the cost of workplace injury itself.