Almost half of employers regard slipping or tripping as the most common risk to their employees’ health and safety, and almost a third (29%) said it was the cause of the most disruption, according to a report by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
More than 950 employers were asked to list up to three common and severe risks to staff health and safety for the HSE’s Workplace Health and Safety Survey Programme.
More than a third (37%) said that lifting and carrying was the most common risk and a quarter said it was the most severe.
Handling sharp objects (14%), PC/laptop usage (10%) and driving/vehicles (8%) were also cited as common risks.
Stress was only ranked as a common risk by 3% of employers and is included in the ‘other’ category in the table.
Six in 10 organisations also admitted that they do not keep records of work-related ill health. More than one third said they did not keep records of near-miss accidents.
However, only one in five (20%) of employers that took part in the survey strongly agreed with the statement that ‘workers here would not take risks’.
…and they value rehabilitation…
Almost all employers (97%) surveyed by the HSE said they maintained contact with staff who were off sick as part of the company organisational rehabilitation policy.
Most organisations (96%) said they would seek professional advice and input from occupational health professionals to deal with health and safety issues. Three-quarters of companies with more than 25 staff provide employees with access to an occupational health service.
Almost all (95%) employers also said they had identified the necessary workplace adjustments they needed to make as part of their rehabilitation practice.
Preparing and carrying out return-to-work plans and interviews also figured prominently at most organisations. Nine out of 10 said that they agreed return-to-work schedules for employees who had been off sick for lengthy periods, and 89% held return-to-work interviews.
But only 55% of employers said they had a written rehabilitation policy in place.
More than 40% of managers in sites with 25 or more staff strongly agreed with the statement that workers at their site were fully involved with health and safety procedures. And just over half of the employers with more than 25 staff also strongly agreed that the managers in their organisation were completely committed to health and safety in the workplace.
…but lack of cash hits health and safety plans
Almost a third of employers cited financial constraints as a major barrier to implementing better health and safety practices, according to the HSE survey.
A fifth of health and safety professionals said that time constraints were also a considerable barrier to progress, and 16% said that they had encountered resistance to change from staff.
Not having enough staff was also seen as a problem by 12% of respondents, but four in 10 (39%) companies with less than 25 staff said that their employees were fully involved with health and safety procedures.
Planning difficulties were also seen as a barrier to implementing better health and safety management for 9% of employers. Around one-third also said they had called on occupational health or general health professionals to offer guidance in the 12 months prior to the survey.