Five million lose out on workplace health benefits

Five
million workers have had their workplace health services taken away in the last
10 years, according to research published by the Health and Safety Executive
and the Institute of Occupational Medicine.

The
research shows that in 1990, 50 per cent of the workforce (more than 12 million
workers) had access to an occupational health service. The latest data shows
that only 7 million workers, about 30 per cent, have retained access to such
services.

Three
quarters of large firms provide workplace health services, compared with just a
third of small firms (10-50 workers).

Forty
per cent of employers spent less than £1,000 a year on occupational health,
and, of those providing it, less than one in 10 (9 per cent) actually worked
out whether they were saving money or wasting it.

Even
among employers who paid out more than £30,000 a year, only just over half (59
per cent) evaluated their expenditure.

Responding
to the report, TUC General Secretary John Monks said: "At a time when we
need to get more sick and injured people back to work, it is a tragedy that
employers are actually scrapping workplace health services rather than
expanding them. Many employers don’t even know how much money they are wasting
by throwing skilled workers down the drain.

"Britain
needs to prevent workplace injuries and illnesses, but we also need to help
people who suffer them get back to health and back to work as fast as possible.
Employers are shuffling those responsibilities on to the Government and the
victims, and it’s got to stop. We need a legal right to workplace health
services like they do in Scandinavia, and the Government is going to have to
step in and put some of the extra NHS money to work for people at work."

By Quentin Reade

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