Businesses overlook injury and illness costs
British businesses are losing their competitive edge because of a failure to tackle the risks of injury and illness in the workplace, a report from the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has concluded. Survey findings from the safety professionals' organisation published last week show employers are underestimating the economic benefits of worker protection and are placing it low on their list of priorities. IOSH says work-related accidents and ill health cost businesses nearly £8 billion a year, with absenteeism, low productivity and legal bills among the 'financial hits'. It adds the overall cost of health and safety failures to the British economy, including welfare and health bills, is estimated at a 'staggering' £22 billion. In a new 'Life Savings' campaign illustrated by examples of employers saving millions by making work safer, IOSH argues 'good, proportionate health and safety' is not a burden on business, but 'is being used by forward-thinking CEOs and managing directors as a driver for growth.' It wants ministers to make sure that their austerity measures, and the 'blitz on red tape', do not damage people's health or lead to accidents. IOSH also echoes the union call on the government to reverse the decision to axe the Health and Safety Executive's infoline. IOSH President Steve Granger said: 'It's frankly wrong for ministers and business leaders to talk about health and safety as 'red tape' and a burden on business.' He added: 'As well as the primary aim of saving people's lives and livelihoods, good occupational health and safety can also deliver vital cost savings and help your business to grow.' One company, E.ON, saved nearly £12 million in one year by improving its safety performance and Rolls Royce saved £11 million over three years.
Issued: 3 June, 2011