The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) is calling for a “more proactive and holistic approach” to health and safety at work to prevent UK standards from falling.
The world’s largest professional health and safety body is urging the government to ratify the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) conventions relating to occupational safety and health.
In June last year, the ILO conventions classed a healthy and safe working environment as a fundamental principle and right at work.
Despite this, fewer than 1 in 5 of the conventions are currently ratified in the UK, something which IOSH has called on the government to act on, warning that the nation risks “falling way behind other developed countries” when it comes to workplace health and safety.
Managing health and safety ‘key’ to economic growth
IOSH’s Head of Policy, Ruth Wilkinson, spoke of the organisation’s frustration that there had been “little movement” since its letter to the government last year.
“The Government is focused on economic growth and reducing economically inactive workers, so let’s make sure we identify and action holistic ways to support these agendas through good work. This means work which is meaningful and for which any safety and health risks are well managed.
“Occupational safety and health actually has a key role here, through supporting people back into work, to work healthier and more sustainably, and to prevent them falling out of work.
“The Government can take a major step to improving workplace health and safety standards by ratifying relevant occupational safety and health conventions, including the Convention on Occupational Health Services. Failure to do so will see the UK fall way behind other developed countries.”
Deaths at work ‘sobering reminder’ of the cost of poor health and safety
It follows data from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) which revealed that 135 people died in accidents at work last year – something which IOSH has called a “sobering reminder of the cost of health and safety failure.”
Thousands of other people are injured each year in accidents at work, while 1.8 million people suffer from work-related ill-health.
Ruth said that, while health and safety standards in the UK have improved in last few decades, they have also “stagnated in more recent years, with the number of fatalities remaining similar each year for over a decade.”
“With work-related ill-health and injury equating to millions of lost working days and costing the economy billions of pounds each year, there is a risk that the significant progress achieved in recent decades might lull into complacency.
“One death in the workplace is too many. We are calling on the government to act on this, to ratify these conventions and be more proactive and holistic in supporting people to work, to undertake good work, and thus preventing harm at work.”
No time for compromise on workplace safety
IOSH has also been urging the government to safeguard health and safety legislation following the passing of the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Act 2023 – the so-called “EU Bonfire” Bill.
The health and safety body fears that the Act could lead to workplace safety standards in the UK effectively being scrapped or “dumbed down”, risking a reduction in productivity and an increase in insurance premiums for businesses and costs for the government.
As IOSH continues its push towards a healthy and safe world of work, Ruth said:
“This isn’t a time to compromise. Ensuring the UK has robust health and safety standards is crucial. It’s good for business, good for society and, importantly, it saves people’s lives.”
Common sense health and safety training
First Response Training (FRT) is one of the UK’s largest and leading national training providers.
They deliver a wide and diverse range of training for businesses and organisations across all industry sectors and throughout the UK. Their course range includes training in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, manual handling, mental health, food safety, health and social care and more.
Their health and safety training is mapped to current UK standards and legislation and follows HSE guidelines. It includes training awards in Health and Safety, Managing and Supervising Risk, Working at Height, DSE Assessment, Manual Handling, Accident and Incident Investigation, and more.
They are also licensed to deliver courses externally approved and certificated by IOSH including Working Safely and Managing Safely.
Based on a common sense, proportionate approach to workplace safety, training helps learners to understand the true benefits of creating a healthy and safe environment at work.
A trainer from FRT explains:
“We believe in creating safer working environments with people who care, and know that when workers feel safe, valued and protected, they are likely to be happier and more productive at work.
“Companies with a strong health and safety ethos can not only reduce workplace accidents and downtime, but also see better staff retention rates and increased employee satisfaction in the future.
“Health and safety training can help employers understand their responsibility to assess risks to workers, consult with workers on control measures to reduce those risks, and implement those measures.”
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