The importance of health and safety in the workplace

The importance of health and safety in the workplace

The importance of health and safety in the workplace

The importance of health and safety in the workplace

How important is health and safety in the workplace? The Health and Safety Act was introduced in 1974 in order to protect the health, safety and welfare of those in the workplace. However, the debate about its importance has been gathering momentum over the last few years and has detractors and supporters on both sides.

There are some who argue that workplace health and safety has gone too far. Health and safety has to a certain extent become a generic phrase and it appears that not a lot of people are aware of what it means.  These people argue that health and safety law is often used as an excuse to ban or limit activities when in reality the risks posed are trivial or could be prevented by a risk assessment.

They also argue that health and safety measures are too complex, with some arguing that it is better just to use common sense rather than carry out risk assessments. Furthermore, it has been claimed that health and safety in the workplace wastes time and money, with workers having to carry out ridiculous measures in order to avoid minor risks, for example receiving safety training with staplers in order to avoid stapling themselves. The claim is that health and safety legislation actually hinders productivity and interferes with day to day life.  It could also be argued that some workplace health and safety rules are outdated.

A survey of 6000 businesses, conducted by the British Chamber of Commerce in 2011, found that almost half of the firms surveyed felt that health and safety regulations are a burden to deal with. David Frost, director general of the BCC, argued that the number of rules confuses employers, especially smaller organisations.

He stated, “Time and time again, we hear of unnecessary and unreasonable examples of health and safety. For example, home workers are treated in the same way as those working onsite, with the employer forced to conduct ever-more elaborate and costly assessments of the employee's home environment."

The importance of health and safety in the workplace

However, if the health and safety initiatives carried out in workplaces help prevent the serious injuries that can be caused in the workplace then that surely must be a good thing. If organisations are required to adopt a balanced and well-thought out response to controlling risks then this is a must be seen as good move. More than 200 people are killed at work each year (not including work-related road deaths); if implementing health and safety measures can help cut down on these numbers, then this should be seen as positive move.

Whilst for some, health and safety in the workplace is seen as a hindrance, it is something that workers have fought for as they have attempted to improve their overall working conditions. If we implement cuts to do away with it, then we underestimate the positive effect health and safety has had on the workplace. It could also have a positive effect on employees’ morality and wellbeing, as they feel the workplace is attempting to look after them.

It seems that there is a great deal of confusion and falsehoods about what health and safety actually is and what its legislation entails. It does seem that health and safety helps more than it hinders and its place in the workplace is extremely important.

The importance of health and safety in the workplace

 

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