06 December 2022
UK health and safety is heading in the right direction, but there is still work to be done, says Ben Henderson.
THIS MONTH the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the Government Agency in charge of regulating and enforcing workplace health, safety and welfare released its annual report on health and safety statistics on work-related injury, ill health and costs in Britain.
The UK is continuing to make great strides in the number of work-related injuries occurring each year. Incidents only marginally increased from last year, however it is thought last year’s statistics were artificially lower due to the pandemic and changing working patterns.
Despite this increase, the UK’s progress since the turn of the millennium is encouraging to see, especially compared to its European counterparts – with France reporting five times the number of fatal injuries per 100,000 workers as the UK – there is still a significant amount of work for the UK to do to continue to drive down work-related injuries and deaths.
To achieve this, companies must continue and, in some instances, start to put workplace safety at the heart of their company culture. This is of course easier said than done. One of the main barriers for organisations struggling to improve their safety culture is ensuring that employees are engaged and actively participating in trying to improve it.
The question that many companies ask themselves is how do we get employees engaged in the process?
The answer? Well, this can differ from organisation to organisation, however, whether we are working with clients from the oil and gas industry or in manufacturing, being able to demonstrate that the health and safety initiatives that have been introduced are having an impact is a sound basis to start from.
To be able to do this, companies must have their data in order. If they don’t, they will be unable to track and measure their health and safety performance effectively, and as such, will not be able to demonstrate to their workers the health and safety practices they have put in place are making a difference.
However, an Intelex research report released earlier this year found that of those health and safety professionals who have experienced at least one health and safety incident in the last 12 months, almost half said they were struggling to extract, format and submit the data they need to deal with the challenge successfully. This issue was compounded by the fact that they were using inconsistent data across multiple sources, and wasting time and effort trying to locate key information across different IT systems.
It is not that surprising therefore that almost nine out of 10 respondents to our research believe implementing technologies and applications specifically designed for monitoring, managing and reporting health and safety would resolve the majority of their organisation’s health and safety issues.
This does beg the question that if more companies deployed bespoke health and safety management software over the next five years, how much further could the annual statistics released by the HSE drop by? Of course, technology cannot remove all dangers in the workplace, or account for human error. But it can help health and safety professionals collect data, manage performance and identify trends as to where potential hazards may be – enabling them to put strategies in place to mitigate the risks, as well as showing where these strategies are working – all the while driving further employee awareness and buy-in.
This in turn will create a virtuous cycle. The more that employees are on board with health and safety initiatives, the fewer workplace incidents there will be, making organisations safer and pushing up their health and safety performance.
Ben Henderson is head of product solution consulting, EMEA at Intelex Technologies. For more information, visit www.intelex.com