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Financial pressures take toll on workplace safety

04 September 2023

THE FINDINGS of a new independent study released as part of the annual Dräger Safety at Work report, have highlighted concerns regarding the impact of the current cost of living crisis and financial pressures on safety in UK businesses.

In the research – which was commissioned by Draeger Safety UK, part of The Dräger Group, an international leader in the fields of medical and safety technology – almost half of managers (49%) reported old or outdated safety equipment not being replaced, or delays to the service and maintenance of safety equipment (43%) as a result of financial pressures on businesses was a risk to safety in their industry.

A quarter (26%) said that companies trying to save money by cutting staff numbers and bringing in energy cost-cutting measures such as turning lights or heating down (43%), risked compromising safety, particularly in industrial settings.

Other key findings include:

  • 38% of workers report experiencing increased anxiety or depression as a result of cost of living pressures and financial difficulties.
  • 61% with anxiety or depression say that it impacts their sleep, and they are sometimes tired at work as a result, with 53% being less able to concentrate / focus.
  • Budgetary constraints (78%) and skills shortages (81%) are outlined as the top challenges to workplace safety over the next 12 months according to managers.

Matthew Bedford, managing director, Draeger Safety UK said, “Whilst the picture over the last few years has been positive in relation to improvements in workplace safety, this year’s research highlights potentially serious concerns being expressed by managers about the outlook for safety amidst the current financial pressures on businesses.

“The research suggests that financial pressures may be prompting some businesses to ‘cut corners’ when it comes to trying to reduce spending – delaying servicing and maintenance of safety equipment for example. But it is clear that poor mental health amongst workers due to financial worries, which in turn has the potential to impact physical safety at work through factors such as lack of sleep and focus, is also a key issue.

“Last year the research highlighted ‘an unprecedented opportunity’ for a positive, long-term change in relation to workplace safety post-Covid. However, this year’s study would suggest that this opportunity is being cancelled out by the current financial pressures that companies – and individuals – are facing.”

View the Dräger Safety at Work report.