Last updated: 24.09.20

The Cost of Health and Safety

In 2017, it was reported that there was £15 billion estimated costs of injuries and ill health from current working conditions. Ensuring you have the right procedure in place not only protects your employees, but it also protects your customers. The failure to comply with this legislation could potentially result in a very hefty fine if employees or customers are harmed and sue the business. Below are three examples of high-profile companies who have been fined due to failing to comply with the health and safety legislation and harming customers or employees.

In 2013, a 20-year-old student working part time at Wilko suffered severe spinal injuries after a heavy metal cage carrying heavy objects fell on her as she was trying to manoeuvre it out of an uneven lift floor. Wilko Retail Ltd admitted four breaches but were fined £2.2 million after this incident as the judge highlighted nine “failings” of Wilko, adding that the cage in this incident was top-heavy, with 87.5 litres of paint stored on the top level, 87 litres on the middle level and 55 litres on the lower level, making it more likely to topple over.

Supermarket giant Tesco were fined £116,000 and ordered to pay costs of more than £10,000 following an incident where an employee was injured. In 2016, an employee was cleaning an oven and a hazardous product came in to contact with their skin. The employee was not wearing suitable Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and therefore suffered chemical burns. Tesco pleaded guilty to three offences, including; failing to ensure the health, safety and welfare of its employees and failure to comply with Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations.

We recently conducted a survey to better understand how much businesses owners value their health and safety procedure, whether they have one in place, and how much the staff are involved. There were some very interesting results.

The most surprising statistic is that over a third of businesses in the UK don’t have a health and safety procedure in place. Belfast, Brighton and Sheffield are the safest cities with 100% of businesses having a procedure in place. Bristol is the most reckless city as only 50% of businesses have a health and safety procedure in place.

The top 10 safest cities are:

  1. Belfast (100%)
  2. Brighton (100%)
  3. Sheffield (100%)
  4. Manchester (87%)
  5. Liverpool (78%)
  6. Plymouth (77%)
  7. Newcastle (71%)
  8. Edinburgh (70%)
  9. Southampton (70%)
  10. Nottingham (67%)

Unsurprisingly, the safest industry is healthcare with 100% of businesses in this industry having a health and safety procedure in place. However, architecture, engineering and building are the most unsafe industries with only 39% of businesses having a procedure in place.

85% of business owners find their health and safety procedure valuable. The main reasons why are that it gives them peace of mind (77%), to protect their business (75%), for the safety of their employees (61%) and that it helps with the insurance (24%).

This is reflected in our study as the higher the average turnover, the more likely it is that the business has a health and safety procedure in place:

  • 51% of businesses turning over less than £100,000 have a procedure in place
  • 81% of businesses turning over £100,000-£999,999 have a procedure in place
  • 91% of businesses turning over £1 million - £9.99 million have a procedure in place
  • 100% of businesses turning over £10 million - £99.99 million have a procedure in place

Worryingly, 43% of businesses don’t train their staff on the health and safety procedure. Newcastle is the guiltiest of this, with 71% of businesses never training their staff nor do they involve them in the risk assessments. 50% of the legal industry never train their staff or involve them in the risk assessments.

We've created an infographic displaying the health and safety procedures for each region of the UK. You can download it here. 

Not only is it a legal requirement to have a health and procedure in place and carry out appropriate risk assessments, but it will protect your business from potentially being fined tens of thousands of pounds and keep your staff and customers safe.

For more information, please see our full range of health and safety courses and resources.