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Costing accidents - The business case

Business case for health and safety

Roger Bibbings, RoSPA's Occupational Safety Adviser talks about how, during these times of austerity, now is not the time to cut back, but instead invest in health and safety

Are you costing your accidents?

The costs of health and safety failure

Britain has a relatively good health and safety record yet 1.8 million people suffered from a work-related illness and over 640,000 work place injuries were reported in 2012/13, with 27 million working days lost in 2011/12 due to work-related ill health or injury. 1

The cost to British employers of health and safety failure was estimated to be £2.8 billion in 2010/11 2.

Insured and uninsured costs

Most organisations do not know what accidents and ill-health really cost them in time and money. Few bother to examine costs if and when they investigate accidents and incidents.

It is often assumed that most accident and incident costs are recoverable through insurance. This is a dangerous misconception. The HSE estimates that uninsured losses are ten times the cost of insurance premiums paid with uninsured losses from accidents in smaller firms adding up to £315 per employee, per year. 3

Uninsured costs can include:

  • Lost time
  • Sick pay
  • Damage or loss of product and raw materials
  • Repairs to plant and equipment
  • Extra wages, overtime working and temporary labour
  • Production delays
  • Investigation time
  • Fines
  • Loss of contracts
  • Legal costs.

Accident and ill-health costs can be likened to an iceberg: costs that are recoverable are visible but those that are unrecoverable are hidden below the waterline and are many times greater.

Other key points to consider

  • Losing key personnel due to injury or ill-health can be critical to meeting contract deadlines
  • In smaller organisations which have little reserve capacity, a serious accident or an incident such as fire can spell the end of the business altogether
  • Loss of business reputation due to accidents and enforcement action can lead to loss of new or repeat business or loss of new investment
  • Accidents can damage workforce morale and affect productivity
  • Serious accidents leading to injury may be rare but minor incidents leading to costly damage are happening much of the time
  • Accident claims invariably mean higher insurance premiums or insurance cover actually being refused.

If you think safety is expensive, try having an accident!

Further information on costing accidents:


  1. Health and Safety Executive Annual Statistics Report 2012/13
  2. Costs to Britain of workplace fatalities and self-reported injuries and ill health, 2010/11, Health and Safety Executive

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