IOSH urges next government to boost occupational health and safety

The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) is urging the next government to focus on improving occupational health and safety to reduce work-related illnesses and boost productivity.

Government urged to prioritise improving occupational health and safety standards to better protect workers, relieve NHS pressures and boost the economyThe world’s largest occupational health and safety body has surveyed its members and launched its own manifesto ahead of the upcoming General Election in the UK.

IOSH’s Safer, healthier and happier manifesto argues that a greater focus on protecting people at work would help the UK to rebuild its economy while also reducing NHS waiting lists.

IOSH’s Head of Policy and Public Affairs, Ruth Wilkinson, said that poor standards of occupational health and safety “harms people, communities, businesses, our NHS and the economy,” and cites recent workplace injury and ill-health statistics from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) which show that these issues cost Britain around £20.7 billion each year.

The growing issue of work-related mental health problems, such as stress, depression and anxiety, as well as more people being generally made ill or injured by their work “means more people seeking treatment, which adds additional pressure onto the NHS. This is pressure that can be avoided by good workplace health and safety.”

Good occupational health and safety must be front and centre

In a recent blog post, Corey Edwards, Senior Policy and Public Affairs Manager at IOSH, also argued that better investment in occupational health and safety would “prevent the workers of today becoming the economically inactive of tomorrow.”

Occupational health and safety should extend to non permanent workers including those in the gig economyIt’s why IOSH is campaigning for the new government to put good occupational health and safety front and centre of any new policies, and why they are arguing against any deregulation of workplace safety.

They surveyed their members on what they believed should be the key priorities for the next UK government. Out of 250 respondents, 9 in 10 said government must focus on improving occupational health and safety, while 85% said there should be better protection for non-permanent workers, including those working in the ‘gig’ economy.

Developed in response, the Safer, healthier and happier manifesto includes five key calls to action for the next government. These are:

  1. Protect workers’ rights to safe, healthy, decent work by endorsing and fully implementing health and safety-related international conventions and ensuring this covers all workers, regardless of their employment status
  2. Strengthen and expand the UK’s workplace safety regulation, by increasing funding for the HSE and investing in strong occupational health and safety systems
  3. Support businesses to effectively tackle new and emerging workplace hazards by being proactive at introducing laws for new technologies and ensuring that non-permanent workers also have rights to good working conditions, a minimum wage, working time protection and access to collective bargaining
  4. Promote a diverse, inclusive, skilled and motivated workforce by incorporating diversity into health and safety legislation, national policies and strategies and ensuring workers are equipped with occupational health and safety awareness
  5. Build a more robust, sustainable economy by reviewing and updating laws and regulations relating to evolving health and safety risks and ensuring people are at the heart of the sustainability agenda

Ruth Wilkinson asserted that a government which takes these actions “will go some way to reducing the number of accidents in workplaces and the number of cases of ill-health caused by work.”

She added:

“They are investments into the future of our workers, preventing people from being harmed by work, which will help cut the number of people seeking NHS treatment and support the economy.”

Championing good occupational health and safety

IOSH has also previously called for improved health and safety practices and better support to enable more people with disabilities and long-term health issues to work.

Companies and government should prioritise good health and safety to support all individuals to find and stay in good workArguing that “good work is good for people’s health and wellbeing,” the leading workplace health and safety body suggested that OSH professionals could play a key role in enhancing workplaces and supporting employers’ efforts to employ, retain and accommodate more people with disabilities.

Prioritising workplace health could bring widespread benefits, enabling countless people, including those who are disadvantaged, “to start, return, stay and succeed in work.”

IOSH has long championed a proactive, holistic and prevention-first approach to occupational health and safety, routinely advocating measures such as:

  • Implementing psychosocial risk management strategies
  • Ensuring greater access to occupational health services
  • Revisiting the Employment Bill and the draft Mental Health Act Reform Bill

Training and development to improve standards

First Response Training (FRT) is one of the UK’s largest and leading national training providers.

Good occupational health and safety is crucial for all organisations and workersThey 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 safetyfirst aidfire safetymanual handlingmental healthfood safetyhealth and social care and more.

Their health and safety training is mapped to UK standards and legislation and follows HSE guidelines. The portfolio includes courses such as Health and Safety, Managing Health and Safety, Risk Assessment, Accident and Incident Investigation, Working at Height, Asbestos Awareness and many more.

An accredited Mindful Employer themselves, FRT’s specialist mental health training courses include Understanding Mental HealthMental Health Awareness in the WorkplaceManaging StressAnxiety and Phobias AwarenessSelf-Harm Awareness and Suicide Awareness.

They can also provide qualified, approved trainers to deliver accredited Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training courses, including the Adult, Youth and Lite versions.

A trainer from FRT says:

“We believe in creating safer working environments with people who care. This is our vision and central to our services. It means providing training that helps to protect people’s physical and mental health, safety and welfare.

“Any life lost at work is obviously one too many, and non-fatal injuries can also have significant, life-altering impacts on workers. Additionally, while stress is not recognised as a diagnosable mental health condition, it can lead to more serious mental health problems such as depression and anxiety, and can also have physiological effects.

“It’s important to recognise the severity of stress and to learn proactive and positive ways for managing, minimising and preventing stress, both in the workplace and in our personal lives and to ensure that we regularly undergo essential training in health, safety and welfare across all organisations and industries.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to