Nearly one out of every 10 UK businesses has slashed its health and safety budget because of the recession, the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has claimed.
The poll of 720 business leaders found 8% had taken a red pen to their budget, although IOSH has stressed what this also shows is that, for most companies, health and safety is not “the first budget on the chopping block”.
Equally optimistically, more than a quarter said that they would still, if they could, give people on incapacity benefits and older staff the opportunity to return to work.
At the same time, IOSH has unveiled a manifesto for creating a safer Britain, calling for action on what it has called the “big four” challenges facing the workplace:
help for people to get the best health and safety advice
getting better health through better work
creating a “risk intelligent” society
more help for small firms in managing risk.
Its move in May pre-empted the launch this month [June] of a new health and safety strategy by the Health and Safety Executive. This is expected to emphasise the need for employers and staff to work more closely together to minimise risks, with business leaders in particular needing to ensure that corners are not cut during difficult economic times.
As part of its strategy, IOSH is commissioning new research into health issues and training for non-English speakers, as well as offering employers access to a range of new tools and guidance.
IOSH chief executive Rob Strange said: “While we need to look at tackling the causes of ill health, we also must stop writing people off just because they’re not in absolute, tip-top shape.
“Not being 100% fit doesn’t stop people doing important work; employers just have to be prepared to make reasonable adjustments. We know that good work is good for health and, on the other hand, that long-term worklessness can bring health risks,” he added.