24/7 Safety: Safety never stops
In Britain we enjoy some of the safest working conditions in the world - although the priority still has to be to bring occupational safety and health (OS&H) standards in poorly performing businesses up to scratch.
But for those organisations which are 'higher performers' in OS&H, the challenge now is to extend their health and safety systems and culture to help their employees to remain safe when they are outside the workplace. This is an important contribution to 'Health, Work Wellbeing' the cross-departmental government programme to improve the health and well-being of people of working age.
Every year in the in the UK over 14,000 people die and 700,0001 are seriously injured as a result of accidents, the majority in the home, on the road, in education, or in leisure activities. Many millions more suffer minor but nevertheless painful injuries. Employees suffer three to four times more accidents during their leisure time and this is a significant cause of absence from work and long-term invalidity. Accidents can ruin lives, wreck families and impose massive and avoidable costs on communities, businesses and the Nation as a whole.
RoSPA believes that there is massive scope to persuade more organisations, which have yet to see the relevance of this kind of work, to consider how they might contribute to employee safety outside work. Experience gathered by RoSPA and many others suggests that there is potentially great enthusiasm among managers, safety professionals, safety representatives and employees themselves for expanding the safety agenda at work so that it can reach out and protect people more widely.
How far should companies try to influence the lives of their employees outside the workplace?
This was one of a number of key questions put to representatives of occupational health and safety "higher performers" who gathered to talk about the positives, practicalities and potential pitfalls of a 24/7 approach to safety and accident prevention.
Workshop (PDF 41kb) Summary report of a workshop held at Royal Mail Centre, Birmingham 28th June 2006.