04 March 2004

Management - It pays for employers to take a healthy interest in their staff

Management - It pays for employers to take a healthy interest in their staff:


EMPLOYERS are increasingly being encouraged to take a greater interest in the health and safety of their workforce.

With an average of 7.4 working days lost per employee in Scotland in 2003, cutting down unnecessary absenteeism is an obvious way to boost a company’s bottom line, as hundreds of millions of pounds are lost every year through sick days while accidents can result in costly compensation claims.

Similarly, long hours and increasing job pressures have seen a rise in stress-related illnesses which can have a debilitating effect on the well-being of businesses as well as staff.

Looking to avoid risky business

SAFE and Healthy Working carried out a survey of small to medium-sized enterprises prior to launching its services to gauge the state of their practices.

The most frequently reported actions taken by SMEs to improve health and safety were implementing a general health and safety policy (83 per cent), training employees (64 per cent), accident reporting (55 per cent) and documented risk assessment (52 per cent).

Some 89 per cent of small firms said they routinely record and monitor accidents. Accident reporting was most likely to occur in the manufacturing, transport and distribution and healthcare sectors, but least likely in the hotel and catering, finance and postal or telecoms sectors.

Overall, 74 per cent of workplaces record sickness absence. Medium-sized workplaces appeared more likely to monitor and record ill-health through sickness absence than the very smallest workplaces.

Broken down by sector, finance and healthcare firms were most likely to record absence through sickness, but least likely in the hotel and catering and postal and telecoms sectors.

At least nine out of ten of the survey respondents said they had acted on perceived risks relating to fumes, moving parts of machinery, fire, lifting and manual handling, electricity, chemicals, and infection or contamination.

The survey also found that the issues least likely to be acted upon, despite being aware of the risks, included psychosocial hazards and long working hours."

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