IOSH calls for government to invest in workplace health and safety

The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) is calling on the government to invest in occupational safety and health (OSH) as it combats the Covid-19 pandemic.

The world’s largest professional health and safety body has submitted proposals to the UK Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review which frame OSH as key to battling the pandemic and supporting workers, businesses and the economy.

They want important government functions to be better resourced in order to protect lives and livelihoods. These functions include the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the Work and Health Unit and the Department of Health and Social Care.

IOSH has also proposed ramping up public health awareness campaigns.

They believe that a renewed focus and significant investment in workplace health and safety is not just key as an immediate response to the pandemic, but for effective work in the future.

They explain that, when OSH is managed well, work can be more productive and positive for employee health and wellbeing.

As evidence, IOSH have cited key statistics from the HSE that reveal that there were 4 million cases of work-related ill-health in 2018-19, resulting in 23.5 million working days being lost.

The annual loss to the economy of work-related ill-health is estimated to top £22 billion.

The statistics also show:

  • 13,000 people lost their lives from past exposures at work
  • 602,000 people suffered from work-related stress, depression and anxiety
  • 498,000 people suffered from work-related musculoskeletal disorders

The concern for IOSH is that the human and socio-economic impact of Covid-19 will only add to these figures.

Mental health at work is a significant and growing concern which will surely only be deepened by the pandemic and resulting economic recession.

It’s currently estimated that around 300,000 people lose their jobs each year in Britain as a result of long-term mental ill health. But, IOSH argues, when employers take action and implement mental health interventions, evidence indicates that they can expect to see an average return of £4.20 for every £1 spent on improvement action.

Despite this, only around 39% of private sector employees – and only 21% in small enterprises – have access to OSH services.

IOSH therefore suggests that small and medium businesses should be incentivised to offer high quality OSH and mental health at work services.

They have also advised that government trade deals, major investments, forex trading,  and infrastructure projects – such as plans for broadband provision, green technologies and housing programmes – should have effective OSH principles embedded at the design and agreement stage, stating that this will help support productivity and reliable delivery.

They believe these measures will help support workers and employers, as well as economic recovery.

IOSH Head of Policy and Regulatory Engagement, Richard Jones, said:

“To help address the current Covid-19 crisis and beyond, we call on the Government and HM Treasury to support the urgent action we have proposed to protect lives and livelihoods and improve workforce health and prosperity.

“We know that good work is good for health and wellbeing and that positive feelings about work have been linked to higher productivity and profitability, as well as customer and worker loyalty, and we’re calling for ongoing health and safety commitment, resourcing and capacity-building.”

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 hygiene, specialist safety, health and social care and more.

Their health and safety training is mapped to UK standards and legislation and follows HSE guidelines. Based on a common sense, proportionate approach to workplace safety, training helps learners to understand the true benefits of creating a health and safe environment at work.

In addition, FRT can also provide accredited training in Mental Health First Aid and also offer a range of other mental health training courses, including Mental Health Awareness in the Workplace, Understanding Mental Health and Anxiety Awareness.

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.”

For more information on any of the training courses that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or e-mail