Written by Leigh Chant
Did you know that over 600,000 self-reported non-fatal injuries to workers occurred in 2016/17, which resulted in an absence from work? The HSE reports1 that the Labour Force Survey (LFS) estimate 175,000 of these self-reported injuries resulted in over 7 days absence. Were you also aware that the number of corresponding days that were lost due to non-fatal workplace injuries was estimated at 5.5 million working days in 2016/17.
The HSE reports1 that costs to Britain of workplace injury for 2015/16 amounts to £5.3billion. This total costs includes both financial costs (loss of output, healthcare costs and other payments made) and the human costs (the monetary valuation given to pain, grief, suffering and loss of life). In the East of England alone, that cost from workplace injury is stated to be £483million2.
Whilst a worker is absent, or only able to carry out light duties following injury, their normal working duties either fall to other workers to do, or may not be carried out at all. In small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), the loss of a key worker to injury, even for a short period of time, can have a significant impact upon the ability of that business to effectively continue trading. In addition to work reorganisation and extra managerial/supervisory time, the employer still has to continue making National Insurance contributions for absent injured employees and may even incur recruitment/induction costs for replacement staff too.
So how do employers look to improve their resilience and enhance their safety record?
It's worth looking at trends to learn which types of workplace hazards cause the most number of injuries. All employers have a legal duty to report certain types of work-related injuries under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR), which includes details both about the nature of the injury and a description of how it occurred. HSE statistics1 highlight that the top five types of non-fatal injuries to employees that were reported under RIDDOR 2016/17 were:
This readily available information should be used by every business to look for these types of workplace hazards and any uncontrolled risks when carrying out a health & safety assessment of any workplace under their control. With employment patterns moving from heavy industry to the service sector, the emergence of acts of violence (threats and physical assault) in recent years should also be considered for customer-facing businesses.
In the longer term, a business that fails to effectively manage workplace risks often has to contend with a poor record of employee injuries and may need to factor in additional costs. Such costs could be civil claims for compensation, enforcement action, fines, higher Employers' Liability insurance premiums, uninsured losses, high staff turnover/poor morale, dissatisfied customers and the loss of reputation.
This all stacks up to make a case for avoiding workplace incidents and employee injuries wherever possible in the first place. Make sure you carry out an effective risk assessment and ensure you concentrate on those five main areas that give rise to the greatest number of work-related injuries and time taken off work. You know it makes sound business sense!
1 HSE - Health and safety at work: Summary statistics for Great Britain 2017. Available online at: www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/overall/hssh1617.pdf
2 HSE - Costs to Britain of workplace fatalities and self-reported injuries and ill-health, 2015/16. Available online at: www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/pdf/cost-to-britain.pdf