It’s that time of year again

words: Simon Bloxham, Safety for Business
Simon Bloxham

The 2016/17 annual injury and ill health statistics from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) are out and show 1.3 million workers suffered from work-related ill health and there were 609,000 workplace injuries.

The figures show that while Britain remains one of the safest places to work, there is still work to do to drive figures down. Workplace injury and new cases of ill health cost Britain £14.9bn a year, with 31.2 million working days being lost to business.

The annual statistics, compiled by the HSE from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) and other sources, cover work-related ill-health, workplace injuries, working days lost, costs to Britain and enforcement action taken.

Top line statistics show that in 2016/17 there were:

• 137 fatal injuries in Britain’s workplaces
• 70,116 other injuries reported by employers
• 12,000 lung disease deaths estimated to be linked to past work exposures
• 554 cases prosecuted with fines from convictions totalling £69.9m

Fines are not collected by the HSE but are levied by the courts in criminal cases and paid to HM Treasury.

There were actually fewer prosecutions in 2016/17, but the statistics show an increase in fines to £69.9m from the 2015/16 total of £38.8m. New sentencing guidelines in England and Wales were introduced in 2016. Twenty large fines accounted for £30.7m of the new figure. For comparison, fine totals were only £19m in 2014/15; so the figures are on the way up and it won’t be long before we reach the £100m mark.

Mobiles are still hitting the headlines

More than two-thirds (68%) of UK businesses are worried their employees are using mobile phones to text or access the internet while driving for work, research has revealed.

The study also found 33% of organisations still have not taken steps to prevent employees from using mobile phones while driving, whether through specific policies, training or education.

This is despite the introduction of harsher penalties for people caught using their mobile phone while driving, which came into force on 1 March this year. The standard fine doubled from £100 to £200, and drivers can now be given a penalty of six points on their licence.

“But it’s down to the driver,” I hear you say. Yes indeed the responsibility lies with the driver, but the HSE will want to know what you, as a business owner, are doing to prevent the use of mobile phones.

It is absolutely essential that you make your position clear to employees. You need to start with a policy on the use of mobile phones. Ingrained habits are also hard to break but continuous training, education and communication can help to change employees’ mindsets and encourage a greater focus on safe driving.

Be warned about hands-free as well. The research also revealed that 68% of organisations still allow hands-free use of mobile phones by employees driving for business purposes. However, studies have shown that talking on a hands-free phone can be as distracting as talking on a handheld mobile.

Help is at hand – getting the best from your SAIF approved health and safety advisors

Safety for Business Ltd has been providing health and safety advice to SAIF members for many years. But what help is available? We provide free telephone and email guidance to all members of SAIF, it is part of your membership plan. If you are uncertain about a matter to do with health and safety, you are entitled to use our support service completely free of charge. We will not send you an invoice or try to get you to join a membership scheme. You have already done this by being a member of SAIF.

If you think you might need a more permanent relationship, we can do two things. Initially, we visit you to see where you are with health and safety, and provide you with a full report on what we found and what you need to do (if anything) to improve. This beneficial service costs just the price of the travel, for which we have to charge as we operate throughout the country and the costs can be a reasonably high expense to us. You can leave it at that and at least you have an action plan to work on. But if you want our assistance to fully comply with health and safety legislation, the next thing we can do, as part of your SAIF membership, is offer a sizeable discount on our fees. This stands at 20%, so why not take advantage now?

Talk to a safety professional at Safety For Business by calling 08456 344 164.

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