The Cost of Accidents and ill-health
Business case for health and safety
Roger Bibbings, RoSPA's Partnership Consultant 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 key figures (2022/23) still give real cause for concern:
- 1.8 million working people suffering from a work-related illness
- 875,000 workers suffering work-related stress, depression, or anxiety
- 473,000 workers suffering from a work-related musculoskeletal disorder
- 2,268 mesothelioma deaths due to past asbestos exposures (2021)
- 135 workers killed in work-related accidents.
- 561,000 working people sustained an injury at work according to the Labour Force Survey
- 60,645 injuries to employees reported under RIDDOR
- 35.2 million working days lost due to work-related illness and workplace injury
- The cost to British employers £20.7 billion estimated cost of injuries and ill health from current working conditions (2021/22)
Insured and uninsured costs
Most organisations do not know what accidents and ill-health really cost them in time and money. Embedding an assessment of the cost of an accident as one part of the investigation process adds a dimension that helps organisations understand the impact of health and safety failure on their overall business performance.
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
- 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 that 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 being refused.
If you think safety is expensive, try having an accident!
Further information on costing accidents:
- Health and safety statistics - HSE
- Statistics - Costs to Britain of workplace injuries and new cases of work-related ill health (hse.gov.uk)
- The cost to Britain of workplace accidents and work-related ill health in 1995/96 - HSG101 (hse.gov.uk)