Firms warned not to ‘sleepwalk’ into health and safety nightmare

Following reports that job vacancies in the UK have hit a record high of 1 million, the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has warned employers dealing with staff shortages not to “sleepwalk” into a health and safety nightmare.

The leading professional body for occupational safety and health said that “worker shortages do not and should not mean worker neglect.”

The global professional body is concerned that the drive to maintain productivity levels in understaffed companies could lead to the protection of workers being compromised.

Checklist for worker safety

IOSH has produced a checklist for businesses coping with worker shortages to ensure they are managing both workers’ physical safety and their stress and anxiety.

The checklist includes:

  • Resource planning and ensuring tasks can still be completed safely
  • Policies and procedures and whether they remain viable in the wake of staff shortages
  • Risk assessments and considering whether these should be updated to account for the shortage of workers
  • Safe systems of work / safe operating procedures and whether these account for the shortage of workers
  • Cross training workers to carry out different roles and cover worker shortages
  • Ensuring all safety checks are still fulfilled and that there is limited risk to workers
  • Mental health and wellbeing in the workplace and how this is impacted by a shortage of workers
  • Keeping workers informed about staff shortages and included in discussions and plans

Invest in appropriate training

IOSH’s Ryan Exley said:

“Whether organisations are finding it difficult to recruit, or they’re being challenged financially and need to make cuts in expenditure, it’s vital for their business/organisation and their staff that they ensure those who work for them are kept safe.

“The last thing we want is to see any employer dealing with worker shortages ‘sleepwalking’ into some health and safety nightmare scenario, where ‘getting by’ with a reduced workforce then morphs into a ‘new normal’ that puts their people in long-term danger.

“Continuing to operate with fewer workers may maximise profits but could build up pressure to cut corners and compromise on safety, seriously damaging workers’ mental health in the meantime.”

Meanwhile, IOSH Head of Health and Safety, Ruth Wilkinson, said firms needed to continue to invest in health and safety and appropriate training despite any staffing issues.

She explained:

“There should be no compromise on health and safety, with the prevention of harm and protection of workers being paramount.”

She added that firms must maintain good risk management and continue to: “Provide the appropriate training, such as staff inductions, competency requirements and refreshers, making sure staff are aware of the health and safety arrangements and their responsibilities; good communication and awareness is key.

“It’s always important to ensure there’s a planned and risk-controlled approach to prevention, focused on safe people, safe systems, safe workplaces and safe equipment.”

Health and safety training and support

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.

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.”

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 info@firstresponsetraining.com.

Occupational safety and health leads Covid recovery

The Director of Professional Services at the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has commented on how the occupational safety and health (OSH) profession is leading the way in the recovery from Covid-19.

In a commentary featured in the Hays UK Salary and Recruiting Trends Guide 2021, Vanessa Harwood-Whitcher spoke of how OSH professionals had found themselves “front and centre of organisations’ recovery from Covid-19,” saying that leadership figures are turning to the profession for guidance to protect their workers and the future of their businesses.

As we slowly move out of the third national lockdown and the roadmap has been laid out to restarting the economy, many employers want to know how they can restart their operations safely, prevent virus transmission on their site and protect remote workers.

Ms. Harwood-Whitcher cautioned that OSH professionals must also “ensure their employers don’t lose sight of non-Covid risks.”

She added: “To achieve this, OSH professionals must be attuned to how their organisation is run and how OSH can enable it to sustain its future and achieve strategic goals. They must be able to adapt quickly as new risks emerge and provide senior leaders with assurance.”

This rise in demand for OSH expert advice will continue well into 2021 and beyond, she predicts.

As a result, IOSH aims to ensure there is a “significant pool of high-calibre people who can respond.”

They are hoping to achieve this through their Student Membership Scheme, their IOSH Mentoring platform and their Future Leaders community. These initiatives all help people at different stages to build their OSH career.

There is high demand for relevant health and safety skills, and IOSH is looking to help meet this demand by moving their main health and safety training products online.

Ms. Harwood-Whitcher says such measures are “why I am confident our profession can continue to deliver, to protect the futures of organisations and those who work for them.”

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading, national training provider. They deliver over 7,000 courses each year in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care and other special focus topics.

Their diverse portfolio includes training awards in Infection Control, Lone Working, Risk Assessment, Managing Health and Safety, Managing Stress in the Workplace and Understanding Mental Health, among many others.

FRT is also approved to deliver world-renowned IOSH-accredited and certificated training courses such as IOSH Working Safely, IOSH Supervising Safely and IOSH Managing Safely.

They also offer a portfolio of e-learning training courses, including COVID-19 Infection prevention, identification and control.

A trainer from FRT explains: “For too long, health and safety has been considered no more than an administrative burden to employers, but this really highlights how sensible health and safety approaches can really benefit businesses and how they will be instrumental in helping firms build back better after the pandemic.”

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 info@firstresponsetraining.com.

HSE Chair reflects on 12 months of Covid

The Chair of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Sarah Newton, has shared her reflections on the past year, which saw Britain and its workplaces battle against the coronavirus pandemic.

Launching the HSE’s new regular website blog, Ms. Newton, who became Chair of Britain’s health and safety watchdog in August last year, explained that her and her colleagues would be publishing blogs sharing their thoughts on a wide range of topics related to HSE’s workplace safety mission.

Speaking of the 12 months since April 2020, she admits it’s “safe to say that it has been a year unlike any of us have ever experienced.”

Ms. Newton explained that, as Britain gradually emerges from lockdown and the pandemic, the HSE will be applying “renewed vigour to our work enabling Covid-secure workplaces. Drawing on what we are continuously learning from the data and science. With a focus on controlling risk, from identifying it to mitigating for it.”

She confirmed that the vast majority of businesses and workplaces were adhering to government guidelines and were making prompt changes to the way they work in order to keep employees and other members of the public as safe as possible.

Where enforcement action has been needed, however, Ms. Newton is clear that the HSE has been decisive in taking that action.

The regulator has been at the heart of the government response to the coronavirus pandemic in Great Britain, working alongside Public Health bodies and local authorities. It has ensured, through spot checks, inspections and advice, that workplaces are doing everything possible to provide Covid-secure working environments.

Ms. Newton says:

“HSE takes the Covid pandemic and the welfare of workers incredibly seriously. Of course, we do. That is written into our DNA and, since 1974, that has been our mission.”

She summarised some of the actions taken over the past 12 months to help make workplaces Covid-secure. These included:

  • Shifting their organisational resources onto Covid-related work and utilising an additional £14 million in funding to add new services to support workers and employers
  • Completing over 165,700 Covid-19 spot checks and responding to over 210,000 concerns
  • Carrying out around 2,000 workplace checks each day
  • Supporting Public Health bodies with 646 reported outbreaks of Covid-19
  • Targeting spot checks in those industries where workers are most vulnerable to transmission risks
  • Leading a Covid-19 national core study, funded by the Government, on transmission of Covid-19 in the environment. This encompasses workplaces, transport and other public settings. The aim is to answer essential policy and operational questions around the pandemic.

The Chair of the HSE concluded:

“All of the above, and more, has taken place against a backdrop of HSE continuing to regulate traditional, non-Covid related occupational health and safety in a multitude of industries.

“As well as setting up the new Building Safety Regulator and dealing with the complex regulatory responsibilities associated with the end of the EU transition period and the intake of new staff that these have entailed. I think that’s a real achievement everyone in HSE can be proud of.”

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading, national training provider. They deliver over 7,000 courses each year in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care and other special focus topics.

Their diverse portfolio includes training awards in Infection Control, Lone Working, Risk Assessment, Managing Health and Safety, Managing Stress in the Workplace and Understanding Mental Health, among many others.

They also offer a portfolio of e-learning training courses, including COVID-19 Infection prevention, identification and control.

A trainer from FRT explains: “Businesses have lots to consider right now; they must ensure they are keeping people as safe as possible and minimising the risk of transmission of Covid-19, following government guidelines and effectively implementing suitable control measures. It is great that the HSE has been there to provide advice, guidance and take action where needed.”

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 info@firstresponsetraining.com.

IOSH partners with WHO to protect lives and livelihoods

The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has partnered with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to provide free online learning to help businesses and workers develop their knowledge around Covid-19.

The two organisations have developed a new course which teaches people about preventing transmission of Covid-19 and managing the risks of returning to work and remote working.

They say it has been created with the aim of “protecting lives and livelihoods.”

The free online training can be accessed by anyone across the world on the WHO online learning platform.

The IOSH and WHO first joined forces last year in order to support businesses, workers and safety and health professionals in managing the risks posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

IOSH’s Chief Executive, Bev Messinger, said they were “delighted” to have worked with the WHO to develop the training modules.

She explained: “The Covid-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on the way we work, as well as the way we live.

“Many organisations have opted for remote working, although this has been beneficial for employers and workers, it is something which can create significant risks, not least around mental health.

“Organisations are also planning their recovery and have been doing for some time. This includes how they can allow people back into workplaces in a safe way, ensuring that the risks of Covid-19 transmission are managed. Some organisations, of course, have had to continue operating in workplaces and we have supported them too.”

She said the training modules would “support people in organisatons of all sizes, including small and medium enterprises and start-ups who might otherwise find it challenging to access such training. Across these organisations, they will enhance the way workers are protected and, as a result, protect lives and livelihoods.”

IOSH has created modules on Safer Teleworking and Reopening your workplace safely, while peer reviewing the other training modules.

The Safer teleworking module focuses on issues such as isolation and work-life balance.

The full course includes interactive content and is available on the WHO’s online learning platform.

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading, national training provider. They deliver over 7,000 courses each year in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care and other special focus topics.

Their diverse portfolio includes training awards in Infection Control, Lone Working, Risk Assessment, Managing Health and Safety, Managing Stress in the Workplace and Understanding Mental Health, among many others.

They also offer a portfolio of e-learning training courses, including COVID-19 Infection prevention, identification and control.

A trainer from FRT explains: “Businesses have lots to consider right now; they must ensure they are keeping people as safe as possible and minimising the risk of transmission of Covid-19, following government guidelines and effectively implementing suitable control measures.

“But they must also think about their employee’s mental health and wellbeing. With the stress and anxiety of the pandemic, the potential isolation of working from home and the strain of national lockdowns, many of their workers may be struggling with low mood, stress, depression or anxiety.

“Health and safety duties for employers are not limited to an employee’s physical health and safety – they also include the responsibility to support their mental health.

“That means it’s not just crucial that employers understand Covid-19, its routes of transmission and how to minimise the risk – as well as other physical safety considerations – they should also understand how they can promote and support positive mental health and wellbeing throughout their organisation.

“A range of training is needed to help foster a truly safe and healthy workforce.”

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 info@firstresponsetraining.com.

Aviva reducing office space in favour of permanent home-working

Investment company Aviva has announced that it will be closing many of its offices across the UK and allowing staff to work from home as standard practice.

Aviva currently employs 16,000 people in the UK and sought to assure that the changes they were making would not amount to job cuts and that staff who preferred to work in an office environment would still be able to do so.

The company issued a statement explaining: “The way we use our office space is changing significantly.”

Explaining that their staff were being consulted on the proposals, Aviva’s statement added: “We are combining office space in some locations and reducing the space in others. Our intention is to invest in our sites to provide a more vibrant, inspiring and flexible workspace for our people.”

Aviva currently has offices in Birmingham, Bristol, Eastleigh, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leatherhead, Leeds, London, Manchester, Norwich, Perth, Sheffield, Worthing and York.

They are looking to reduce their two offices in York to just one, while in Norwich two offices at the Broadland Business Park will both be closed and staff will be relocated to their city centre site by the end of the financial year.

Companies extend home-working

After many companies were forced to facilitate staff working from home wherever possible when the first coronavirus lockdown was put in place in March 2020, a number have since announced extensions to their work-from-home policies, with many deciding to allow employees to work from home on a permanent basis.

Companies that have made the switch to long-term remote working arrangements include: Adobe, Amazon, Capital One, Facebook, Mastercard, Nationwide Insurance and Siemens.

Flexible working and work-from-home policies can improve employees’ work/life balance and therefore enhance their mental health and wellbeing.

Many studies have also shown that, contrary to the fears of many bosses, flexible working and working from home can lead to increased productivity for firms.

Staff who are granted flexible working arrangements that ensure they can work to the best of their ability, in a way that fits around their circumstances, often feel more valued and happier, and are more likely to stay with their employer for a longer time.

Health and safety for home workers

It is important for employers to be aware, however, that they have the same health and safety responsibilities towards employees who are working from home as they do those working onsite.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) explains that employers needs to consider the following for home workers:

  • How they will keep in contact with them?
  • What work activities they will be completing and for how long?
  • Can the activities be completed safely?
  • Do they need to put any control measures in place to protect them?

Home workers are essentially lone workers with no direct supervision, so it is vital that employers and colleagues maintain regular contact with them. This can be important for noticing the early warning signs of stress or mental ill health. If you are stressed or anxious, you can try using D8 gummies as it will help you relax

For those working at home long-term, the risks associated with display screen equipment (DSE) should be managed, and this includes carrying out workstation assessments at the employee’s home.

Specific training may also be needed for home-based and lone workers.

Home working arrangements should be kept under continual review, with companies assessing whether any additional measures are needed to protect worker health and safety.

Consider specific training

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading, national training provider who has a really good website design. They deliver over 7,000 courses each year in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care and other special focus topics.

Their diverse portfolio includes training awards in Lone Working, Risk Assessment, Managing Health and Safety, Managing Stress in the Workplace and Understanding Mental Health, among many others.

A trainer from FRT explains: “Working from home can offer great flexibility for some workers and it’s great that many organisations are deciding to offer this long-term.

“Employers must remember, though, that they still have the same responsibilities to safeguard the health, safety and wellbeing of home workers as they do for staff based in the office.

“During the pandemic, working from home has offered better protection for employees and has safeguarded businesses, but it can also create feelings of loneliness and isolation, while for those who have children that are home-schooling, there can be increased stress and anxiety.

“It’s important to regularly check-in on people who are working from home, and ensure they are healthy, happy and safe and able to work productively.”

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 info@firstresponsetraining.com.

For more tips and advice about how to work well from home, download our free infographic.

Müller group fined after worker’s fingers amputated

Major yoghurt and dessert manufacturer, Müller, has been fined £66,000 after an agency worker had to have their fingers amputated following a “preventable incident.”

The Müller UK & Ireland Group, based in Minsterley, Shrewsbury, appeared at Walsall Magistrates’ Court this month where they pleaded guilty to breaching the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 in relation to the incident.

In addition to their £66,000 fine, the company were also ordered to pay prosecution costs of £5,024.20.

The court heard how the agency employee had been working as a box maker and using a machine known as the tray erector at the company’s Minsterley site, when the incident occurred on 12th July 2016.

Their fingers became caught in the machine, and this resulted in them having to have their middle finger amputated below the second knuckle, losing half their index finger and having their third finger amputated to the first knuckle.

A subsequent investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the in-running nip on the tray erector was not properly guarded to prevent such incidents.

Furthermore, inspectors found that Müller had actually failed to guard dangerous parts of the machine in order to prevent access for more than seven years.

Commenting on the case following prosecution, HSE Inspector Andrew Johnson said:

“This preventable incident could have easily been avoided had the company properly assessed and applied effective control measures to minimise the risks from dangerous parts of the machinery.

“The dangers associated with in-running nips are well known, and a wealth of advice and guidance is freely available from HSE and other organisations.”

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading national training provider.

Working with companies from all industry sectors and throughout the UK, they deliver a wide range of courses in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care and other special focus topics.

Their courses include Managing and Supervising Safety, Accident and Incident Investigation and Risk Assessment.

A trainer from FRT says: “It’s so important that all companies understand their duties in relation to health and safety, and the control measures they must apply in order to protect their workers.

“Every worker deserves to go home healthy and safe at the end of their working day, and that is why health and safety law exists.”

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 info@firstresponsetraining.com.

Health and safety guidance as Brexit transition period ends

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has issued guidance for complying with health and safety law as the transition period following Britain leaving the EU comes to an end on 31st December 2020.

When the Brexit transition period officially ends, businesses in the UK will still have the same responsibility to protect the health, safety and welfare of their workers and all those affected by their work activities.

Standard HSE guidance on health and safety made simple should enable businesses to understand the basics and manage their risks to comply with the law.

HSE advises all businesses to check the new rules that will be in force from 1st January 2021 and ensure they have taken action to meet requirements. Guidance for this can be found on the government website.

Meanwhile, the health and safety watchdog has provided specific guidance for businesses in the chemicals industry about regulatory measures from January 2021.

They explain that the UK “remains strongly committed to the effective and safe management of chemicals” and provide a number of pieces of guidance on regulating chemicals after the Brexit transition period has ended.

They have also provided links to recordings of the two, virtual one-day stakeholder events they joint hosted with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). These events covered the actions that businesses need to take when the transition period ends and how the new GB regulatory regime for chemicals could impact their work.

Dr Matthew Penrose, Head of Chemicals (Future Readiness) Policy at the HSE, said:

“It is imperative that businesses and individuals who make, use or supply chemicals prepare for 1st Jan. If they don’t, they could face issues with products they use in everyday work.”

In addition to guidance for the chemicals industry, the HSE has also provided specific guidance for working with explosives after the transition period ends.

This includes the new UK mark, placing civil explosives goods on the EU market, UK-based ‘notified bodies’ and more.

Finally, the watchdog also has a raft of guidance about regulating equipment and machinery following the end of the Brexit transition period. This includes placing CE marked goods on the UK market, the new UK mark and other important information.

You can access all of the HSE’s Brexit health and safety guidance from this webpage.

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading, national training provider. They deliver a wide range of training in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, health and social care, mental health and other special focus topics.

A trainer from FRT says: “The UK has one of the best workplace health and safety records in the world, and that commitment and high standard must remain once we have the Brexit transition period has ended and we have officially left the EU.

“Good health and safety makes business sense, and benefits us all.”

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

How to protect home workers during Covid-19

As hundreds of thousands of workers continue to work from home in line with government guidelines during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has updated guidance for protecting home workers.

Employers have the same health and safety responsibilities for home workers as they do for any other workers.

The HSE explains that, whether workers are based at home temporarily during the pandemic or are permanently working from home, employers need to ensure they consider:

  • How they will keep in contact with them?
  • What work activities they will be completing and for how long?
  • Can the activities be completed safely?
  • Do they need to put any control measures in place to protect them?

Keep in touch

Employees working from home are essentially lone workers with no direct supervision. This can mean they are at greater risk, and it’s important to maintain regular contact with them to ensure they remain healthy and safe.

Lone workers who receive little or poor contact can begin to feel disconnected or isolated, and this can affect their stress levels and mental health.

Manage DSE risks

For many people this year, working from home has become a long-term arrangement, and this means that the risks associated with working with display screen equipment (DSE) must be managed. This means that workstation assessments should be carried out at home.

For those who are only working from home on a short-term basis, employers do not need to carry out workstation assessments, as there is no increased risk.

Workers should still receive advice on completing a basic workstation assessment at home, however, and should be aware of simple steps they can take to reduce the risks from DSE. These include:

  • Taking regular rest breaks or changing activities to break up long spells of DSE work
  • Regularly changing position and avoiding awkward, static postures
  • Performing stretching exercises or simply ensuring you get up and move about regularly
  • Changing focus and blinking from time to time to avoid eye fatigue

If workers have specialised DSE needs, then employers should try to meet these where possible. This may mean allowing workers to take specialised equipment home from the office.

Keep home working under review

Many workers may have begun working from home in March this year when the first national coronavirus lockdown was imposed, believing it would be a short-term arrangement. Continuing local restrictions and a second national lockdown, however, may have extended the working from home status into a more permanent arrangement.

For this reason, it’s important that employers keep DSE arrangements under review with their workers and check whether any additional measures are needed to protect their health and safety.

Support mental health

Finally, the HSE has advised that its vital that employers are looking after the mental health and wellbeing of their home workers.

While some people benefit from working from home, many may experience work-related stress as a result, and this can affect their mental health. Being at home and isolated from managers and colleagues could make it difficult for these workers to get proper help and support.

This is why it’s more important than ever to maintain direct contact with your workers. Look out for signs of stress so you can act as soon as possible to provide support.

Establish an emergency point of contact and share this with home workers so that they are aware of how they can access help if they need it.

For more detailed information and guidance about how to protect lone workers, head to the HSE’s website.

Consider specific training

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading, national training provider. They deliver over 7,000 courses each year in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care and other special focus topics.

Their diverse portfolio includes training awards in Lone Working, Risk Assessment, Managing Health and Safety, Managing Stress in the Workplace and Understanding Mental Health, among many others.

A trainer from FRT explains: “It must not be a case of ‘out of sight, out of mind’ for home workers.

“Employers still have the same responsibilities to safeguard their health, safety and wellbeing as they do for staff based in the office. They are still part of the team, and should be checked up on regularly.

“Working from home can offer great flexibility and better protection during the current pandemic, but it can also bring its own issues; such as negatively impacting work/life balance and creating feelings of loneliness and isolation. Those who have children at home while they are trying to work can also face increased stress levels.

“It’s good that all of this is being recognised and that there is a wealth of information and guidance out there for employers. It’s important that they ensure they are familiar with it, and that they also consider specific training for lone workers where relevant.”

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 info@firstresponsetraining.com.

For more tips and advice about how to work well from home, download our free infographic.

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 info@firstresponsetraining.com.