New strategy for a common sense approach to risk at work

Workplace deaths and injuries have fallen over the past thirty years in the UK
but thousands still die every year as a result of work-related accidents and
ill health.

The British Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has launched a new strategy, Be
Part of the Solution, on 3 June designed to reduce the number of workplace
accidents and take a common sense approach to ensuring that risk management is
an enabler for business not a burden.

New research demonstrates that employers and workers alike both recognise
overwhelmingly that providing a safe workplace makes sound commercial sense.
Nearly 90 per cent of business leaders say that people are their organisation's
most important asset. In addition to preventing accidents, 65 per cent of
employees say that good health and safety practices make them feel valued.

The recession could make some workplaces more dangerous, as more than a quarter
of business leaders say that that their organisation will face pressure to cut
spending on health and safety this year. This is not only potentially dangerous
but could also be bad for business; nearly eight in ten business leaders
acknowledge that good health and safety standards are beneficial. In part this
is because the cost of preventing accidents is almost always less than the
costs associated with an accident once it happens.

Almost half of Britain's workers know someone who has been injured at work, yet
the actual rate of deaths and serious injuries is greatly underestimated. On
average, employees think that 3,000 people were killed or seriously injured at
work last year, but the true number is 137,000 - more than 45 times higher.

Too often health and safety is seen as trivial or the preserve of 'jobsworths',
rather than preventing tragedy. A third of employees wrongly think that HSE
bans wearing flip-flops at work or children playing with conkers. In fact, HSE
is focused on real risks and preventing the serious harm that dangerous
workplaces can cause.

The most effective way to improve health and safety practices is for senior
management to show leadership on the issue. HSE is thus calling on leaders
today to sign a pledge to 'Be Part of the Solution' and improve health and
safety standards.

Judith Hackitt, Chair of HSE said:

"HSE is not, and never will be, 'the fun police.' Our new strategy shows the
way towards a common sense attitude to health and safety. As regulators, our
approach to businesses will be proportionate to the risk they present and their
approach to managing it. We are calling on employers and business owners to
take the lead themselves in preventing the thousands of deaths every year which
are caused by work - it is their moral and legal duty and it is good for the

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, James Purnell said:

"There are too many clichés about the role of 'health and safety' in our
society. But amidst ridiculous myths about banning donkey rides and flip
flops, the fact is that too many people are still needlessly killed or injured.
The fact that some people go out to work and never return home to their
families is a human tragedy. The new HSE strategy recognises that a significant
challenge now faces everyone with a stake in health and safety. We need to do
everything we can to drive down the toll of death and injury."

Brendan Barber, General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress, said:

"At a time when employers are trying to cut costs, getting the message across
on the importance of health and safety is more important than ever. Today's
strategy is short on rhetoric, but big in vision. Unions and health and safety
representatives are committed to supporting this strategy as well as the day to
day work of the HSE."

Sir Steve Bullock, Chair of the Local Government Association (LGA) human
resources panel, said:

"Having a healthy and safe place to work is a fundamental right of every
employee. But it is not a right that everyone enjoys. We must all work together
to improve Britain's safety record. We must also join together to reject the
trivialisation of the health and safety agenda - we must not be distracted by
silly or frivolous issues when the larger issue is about protecting workers
from serious injury or death.

"As well as being a regulator alongside HSE, local government is also a major
employer. We are proud to be part of the drive to make Britain a safer and
healthier place to work."

More info - Source: Health and Safety Executive