Employers warned over cutting corners on health and safety

Industries around the country may be suffering from the economic downturn, but that is no excuse to cut corners on health and safety, employers have been warned.

Both the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) and the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health have stressed to employers that it is in fact even more important to focus on occupational health and health and safety during a recession.

In comments to mark October’s European Campaign for Safety and Health at Work, Roger Bibbings, RoSPA occupational safety adviser, said: “Given the current financial climate, there is a danger that occupational health and safety could be seen as a problem largely solved – a ‘nice to have’ rather than a really essential social and economic ingredient. There could be a temptation to cut corners, reduce standards or delay introducing essential protective measures.

“But we must avoid seeing an increase in the number of health and safety casualties as part of the price to be paid by workers and members of the public for the recession,” he added.

New IoSH president Nattasha Freeman told the association’s annual dinner in November that the economic difficulties facing the UK were, if anything, a reason for companies to take a more robust approach to health and safety.

“Companies need professional, competent health and safety advice because one accident could put them out of business,” she said. “Accidents and ill health place a huge strain on budgets, so it makes sense for firms to do all they can not to have them.”

In an increasingly competitive environment, the ability to demonstrate effective health and safety management would be all the more important in winning future business, Bibbings also advised.

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