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UK businesses still breaking the most basic health and safety laws

Almost two thirds of UK businesses are failing to meet basic health and safety laws and are putting their employees in danger, according to new research.

A survey of 2,000 employees, working for businesses that have over five employees, found that 65% have not received any information on their company’s health and safety policies. This is despite it being a basic legal requirement for all companies with five employees or more. The research, which was conducted by data capture app provider WorkMobile, also revealed that even when workers were provided with written health and safety guidance, the information didn’t explain the risks of the job properly.

The survey claims that 27% of staff who have received and read their company’s health and safety manual thought the information didn’t go into enough detail about their role and the dangers they could face, or how to deal with risky situations.

As a result, the majority of workers do not feel that they are well equipped to deal with a hazardous situation if one occurred. A fifth (20%) would have no idea how to report an issue or hazard at work, while a third (32%) would have a vague idea about how to handle the situation, but would still need to ask for help or consult with the company’s procedure documents first.

Despite UK health and safety laws being constantly updated in order to keep them accurate and relevant, 13% of employees said their company’s safety handbook has never been updated since they first received it. What is more, almost a third (31%) do not actually think that their handbook ever needs to be updated.

The survey was conducted as part of WorkMobile’s Work Safe report, which looks at the current state of health and safety in the UK and where improvements need to be made to protect workers.

Colin Yates, chief support officer at WorkMobile, said: “UK bosses have a legal responsibility to keep their employees safe, so it’s extremely concerning to see that many are not even taking the most basic of steps to fulfil this duty. “Failing to supply workers with information and guidance on health and safety policies could land business owners with a hefty fine, or even a prison sentence in extreme cases. But, along with risking legal action, businesses are also potentially putting their employees in serious danger. When staff are not trained on how to work safely, there is a greater risk of accidents happening.

“Every employee has the right to feel safe in their place of work, and it’s up to business owners to provide this. And given that society is becoming more innovative, with working practices constantly being improved, there is no excuse for not obeying with the law and fulfilling their business obligations.”

Workplace Insight
June 2017


Health and work – infographics

Public Health England (PHE) and The Work Foundation have collaborated to produce 13 infographics intended to help raise awareness and understanding of the relationship between health and work.

These infographics are intended to help public health practitioners, local authorities and policy makers to make the case and inform planning on embedding health, work and worklessness within and across these issues.

The infographic covering ‘Spotlight on alcohol, drugs and tobacco’ to Health and work has been updated. This, together with the other infographics, is available here

The other infographics cover the following:

  1. spotlight on mental health
  2. cost of ill health
  3. health of the working age population
  4. health of UK employees
  5. spotlight on musculoskeletal conditions (MSK)
  6. managing health at work for employers
  7. spotlight on small medium enterprises (SME)
  8. unemployment and economic inactivity
  9. welfare
  10. the local picture
  11. supporting older workers with health problems
  12. young people and health at work.
Public Health England
June 2017