Janet Kerrigan, Service & Development Director at Willis Insurance and Risk Management, explains why organisations must recognise the importance of health and safety in the workplace.

Workplace health and safety is a burning issue, yet employers often fail to recognise its importance, instead being distracted by those matters deemed to have an immediate impact on business operations.

The Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland (HSENI) recently published its annual report for 2017-2018, which outlined that total injuries recorded in workplaces across Northern Ireland during the period reached 1,898, a rise of 13 per cent on the previous year.

The number of major injuries reported meanwhile, increased by 27 per cent to 453.

The HSENI enforces various regulations and legal requirements that organisations must adhere to when it comes to workplace health and safety. Failure to follow these can result in employee claims, legal action, reputation damage and an adverse effect on a company’s bottom line, regardless of whether an incident occurs or not.

The attitude that an employee injury or fatality is only an issue as and when it happens, is a recipe for disaster. These events are almost always unexpected, but however unpredictable they are in nature, the risk of them occurring can be greatly minimisedshould those in managerial roles ensure there are appropriate measures and procedures in place.

Workplace harm covers anything from trips and falls, repetitive strain injury, cuts and lacerations, exposure to loud noise, inhaling toxic fumes and being hit by falling objects. The sheer scope of injuries is evidence that the importance of employee health and safety is not isolated to one specific industry and must be taken into consideration by all sectors.

The sectoral breakdown of the HSENI report, recorded that of overall reported workplace injuries, 28 per cent occurred within the manufacturing industry, 25 per cent in the public services sector, 20 per cent in the education sector, 9 per cent in the health sector and 4 per cent in the construction sector, with the remaining 14 per cent occurring within other industries.

There is much for an organisation to consider in ensuring that it remains legally compliant with current health and safety legislation. Clear, fair documentation is the foundation of a healthy relationship between an organisation and its employees. If comprehensive enough, policies and procedures can guide and support the actions a business takes both operationally and strategically.

At Willis Employment Services, we go beyond paperwork and documentation – our behaviour auditing is what helps our customers to reduce accident rates and develop a positive safety culture. Alongside this, organisations can benefit from on-site training courses delivered by our experts to ensure best practice in manual handling, risk assessments, risk management, manager safety training and supervisor safety training.

Through engaging with a Health and Safety Consultant, a business will aid the development of a very tailored solution, allowing key ‘problem areas’ to be highlighted and immediate action to be taken.

Ultimately, workplace health and safety can be a minefield, and therefore seeking professional guidance ensures that employers do not neglect the wellbeing of their employees by getting ‘tangled up’ in other seemingly more important business matters.

Willis Employment Services offer a range of Health and Safety packages, to discuss further, visit www.willisinsurance.co.uk, or contact a member of the team on 028 9032 9042

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