Health & safety in the workplace and your business’ bottom line

As a business owner with employees we appreciate that there are certain workplace health & safety rules to be followed, and as such, we also have the necessary systems in place to record absences and incidents.

But do we really understand the financial effect that workplace ill health and accidents can have on our business, and what improved health & safety standards could do for our bottom line?

In this article, Louise Percy explores the facts and uncovers the financial truths of health & safety in the workplace…

FACT: As an employer, workplace health & safety is a legal responsibility

Health & safety applies to all businesses regardless of size. As an employer, you are responsible for the health & safety of your employees – a duty that is placed on you under the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974).

How you implement health & safety will vary depending on the size of your business, the nature of the work you do, and how many people you employ. Most business owners will have to fulfil some or all of the following legal requirements:

  • Carry out a workplace risk assessment and put measures in place to prevent or minimise harm to employees.
  • Appoint a responsible person to either manage or help you manage health & safety in your workplace.
  • Document how you manage health & safety within your business and inform your staff.
  • Offer free health & safety training to employees and any contractors that work on your premises.
  • Provide adequate facilities for your employees – from toilets and drinking water to suitable chairs and lighting, and so on.
  • Maintain an appropriately stocked first-aid box and appoint someone who can give immediate attention to ill or injured employees.
  • You may also have to formally record and report certain injuries and accidents.
  • Invest in employers’ liability insurance to help you pay compensation should a court find you liable for any injury or illness caused in your workplace.
  • Display the HSE health & safety law in a place that is accessible to your employees or to provide each of their workers with the equivalent leaflet (available as a free download). The HSE is the regulatory body responsible for enforcing the Health & Safety at Work Act.

FACT: Employees must take responsibility too

Whilst the law dictates that employers have primary responsibility for health & safety in the workplace, employees also have certain obligations to meet.

As an employee, you have what is known as a ‘duty of care’. This means that you must take reasonable care of your own health & safety. Your duty of care also extends to that of your fellow colleagues which means that you must be careful not to put them at risk in the course of your work.

How do you take responsibility?

You must co-operate with your employer by attending health & safety training and putting into practice the principles learned.

You must co-operate with your employers’ advice and policies on health & safety – for example, if you notice a spill on the staff kitchen floor, you have a duty to report it to your employer or the person responsible for health & safety within your workplace.

You must also tell your employer if something happens to you that could affect your ability to work – for example, if you become pregnant, suffer an injury outwith work, or start taking medication that could impact on your work.

FACT: Illness and injury costs your business money

Let’s look at an average ‘sick day’ and what it costs.

According to figures for 2017, employees took 5.6 days off each, at a cost of £570 per employee.

For any small business, that’s an exorbitant loss. And this figure only relates to direct salary costs; what it fails to take into account is the impact the missing employee had on the business that day – from reduced customer service to the potentially numerous opportunities for new business that were lost.

We have all been there: someone phones in sick and the customer enquiries took longer to deal with or weren’t dealt with timeously that day.

Lengthy absences are even more costly as you may have to bear the logistical costs of advertising a temporary vacancy and recruiting a replacement to cover for an employee suffering from ill health.

And figures published last year suggest that this can cost, on average, £1,815 per recruit (and that’s if you’ve not already spent £3,618 hiring various temporary staff!).

£398 on advertising the role
£767 of management time interviewing candidates
£454 if you recruit via an agency
£196 of HR time processing the new hire
TOTAL: £1,815

Many workplace ailments, illnesses and injuries can result in relapse or leave your employee with a chronic condition that is likely to result in unplanned time off work.

Whether you choose to share their workload across your other staff, or recruit for a temporary team member, this disruption will inevitably impact on your business, staff morale, and ultimately your bottom line.

FACT: Productive employees like considerate employers

It’s true. No-one wants to work in an environment where they feel unsafe.

Your commitment to health & safety is demonstrated in your policies and procedures. It shows that you’re financially invested in the wellbeing of your biggest assets – your people. By taking health & safety seriously you are telling the world (well, your customers and suppliers at least) that you are a caring and considerate employer. 

Safe working environments and employee morale go hand-in-hand. And naturally, as many studies have discovered, high employee morale – when job satisfaction and wellbeing are both high – means that productivity is boosted. When your employees enjoy their jobs and feel good about their workplace, they become emotionally invested in their work and won’t want to leave to work elsewhere. This is great for your business and also your customers; customers like consistency and
when you have a competent and healthy workforce then you are more likely to maintain this consistency level and therefore win and retain business.

FACT: Gaining health & safety accreditation is good for business

In my previous article, 5 reasons why accreditation is good for business, I looked at how having certain business accreditations will help build confidence and trust in your business, cut costs and increase profits, demonstrate your business’ technical knowledge and expertise, help your business gain a marketing advantage, and ultimately win more work.

“They may forget what you said – but they will never forget how you made them feel” – Carl W. Buehner

Having the relevant health & safety accreditations for your business demonstrates that you’ve gone above and beyond your legal requirements and in many ways, it means you’re a socially responsible business.

It’s human nature that we surround ourselves with good people; being a socially responsible, ‘good’ business will naturally attract positive attention from potential customers.

Would you like Positive About Business to help you reap the rewards of a health & safety conscious workplace? 

Louise Percy founded Positive About Business in 2012 to help small and medium-sized businesses start their journey to excellence and improvement.

She specialises in helping businesses achieve health & safety compliance construction industry accreditations and standards, completing tenders and PQQs and policy documentation.

Please contact to find out how your business can benefit!