Home>Industry Update>Company News>Research reveals extent of workers breaking rules
Home>Health & Wellbeing>General Health & Wellbeing>Research reveals extent of workers breaking rules

Research reveals extent of workers breaking rules

22 November 2023

NEW RESEARCH has revealed that 2 in 5 Brits (that’s 40% of us) regularly break health and safety rules because they view them as unnecessary.

The study1, commissioned by Phoenix Health & Safety, surveyed 1,500 participants UK wide to uncover which health and safety regulations are most commonly broken in workplaces and why. 

2022 statistics saw 36.8 million working days lost due to work-related illness and workplace injury2, painting a sobering picture of the current state of health & safety in all workplaces. 

Phoenix Health & Safety have gathered insightful data to better understand why people and businesses are willing to cut corners, and how businesses should take action to reduce the risk of future workplace accidents. 

The most common reason health and safety regulations are broken include: 

1. Employees see the rules as unnecessary (38%) 

2. Bad habits that become common (37%) 

3. People think risk isn’t great enough (37%) 

4. To speed up work (31%) 

5. Employers saw rules as unnecessary (27%) 

6. People unaware of the rules (26%) 

Discussing the results, Nick Higginson, CEO of Phoenix Health & Safety shares, “By looking at these results we can see that a major reason why regulations are being broken is a poor understanding of the rules and why they’re in place, with nearly two-fifths (38%) of people seeing rules as unnecessary.” 

In addition, 37% of people admitted that bad habits had become commonplace, and workplace health & safety risks are not perceived as being great enough. 

Nick explains: “It is easy to forget the importance of regulations and fall into bad habits if they’re not addressed on a regular basis. This is why frequent training is imperative to ensure employees have an up-to-date understanding of all health and safety measures in place and why they matter.” 

The most frequently broken health and safety regulations are: 

1. Not reporting an incident to superiors (33%) 

2. Not doing adequate risk assessments (26%) 

3. Slipping/tripping hazards not addressed (20%) 

4. Not following working from height guidelines (19%) 

5. Moving and handling guidance not adhered to (18%) 

6. Workplace assessments not being conducted (17%) 

7. Not having clear signage (13%) 

8. People choosing not to use office equipment (13%) 

9. Blocking fire escapes (12%) 

10. People choosing not to use PPE (12%) 

The most commonly broken regulation was not reporting health & safety incidents to superiors, with a third (33%) of respondents admitting that this happens in their workplace. 

Explaining why this is so concerning, Nick says: “It is vital that a potential hazard in the workplace is reported to the relevant persons, whether that be a supervisor or safety manager, as soon as it has been identified so it can be dealt with immediately. Not doing so can result in accidents and injuries that could have been otherwise avoided.” 

Over a quarter (26%) of people reported that risk assessments were inadequate in their workplace, and a fifth (20%) reported that slipping and tripping hazards are another common area of risk not being addressed. 

Nick states: “This is very surprising, as completing a thorough risk assessment is essential as part of HSE compliance and preventing accidents within the workplace - the failure to complete an appropriate risk assessment can not only result in a hefty fine but can also put the public and employees at considerable risk.” 

He continues: “Slips, trips and falls account for around half of all reported major injuries to employees3, which is why employers should ensure risks in this area are always addressed.” 

The most commonly broken rules also varied significantly by industry. 

In construction, a concerning 38% of respondents said working from height regulations weren’t followed correctly, despite this being a major risk within the industry with forty workers losing their lives falling from height last year4

On the other hand, in the fast-paced, high-stress nature of the hospitality industry, not reporting an incident to superiors was the regulation broken most frequently, as reported by 39% of hospitality workers. 

Nick states: “Whilst health and safety regulations may sometimes be perceived as unnecessary and a barrier to productive work, it’s important to remember that they play a crucial and potentially life saving role in the workplace. 135 workers and 68 members of the public were killed in work-related accidents in 2022/235, signalling how this is a serious issue which can result in fatalities. 

“It is the responsibility of organisations to ensure that all health and safety regulations are in place and a culture of following the rules is installed in the workplace, but it is also the responsibility of employees themselves to ensure the regulations are followed. 

“Instilling a safety culture within the workplace can be done by relevant employees taking an accredited, industry-standard course such as the IOSH Managing Safely Course, which will provide the knowledge needed to be responsible for the health and safety of others in the workplace.” 

For further information on the IOSH courses available, visit www.phoenixhsc.co.uk/iosh-courses 


1. https://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/ 
2. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1OzkR7PNEb7iy2GUputGPhl8ESH9xlCAvjGUt7zavxOU/edit#gid=0
3. https://www.hse.gov.uk/healthservices/slips/index.htm#:~:text=Slips%2C%20trips%20a
4. https://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/fatals.htm 
5. https://www.dacbeachcroft.com/handlers/ArticleDownload.ashx?pageId=62052