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15 June 2017

UK businesses breaking ‘basic’ health and safety laws

Almost two thirds of UK businesses are failing to meet basic health and safety laws and are putting their employees in danger, according to new research.

65% of workers have no information about health and safety policies

A survey of 2,000 employees, working for businesses that have over five employees, found that 65% have not received any information on their company’s health and safety policies. This is despite it being a basic legal requirement for all companies with five employees or more.

The research, which was conducted by award-winning data capture app provider, WorkMobile, also revealed that even when workers were provided with written health and safety guidance, the information didn’t explain the risks of the job properly.

27% of those who have received advice believe it is inadequate

27% of staff who have received and read their company’s health and safety manual thought the information didn’t go into enough detail about their role and the dangers they could face, or how to deal with risky situations.

As a result, the majority of workers do not feel that they are well equipped to deal with a hazardous situation if one occurred. A fifth (20%) would have no idea how to report an issue or hazard at work, while a third (32%) would have a vague idea about how to handle the situation, but would still need to ask for help or consult with the company’s procedure documents first.

Thankfully, just under half (48%) of workers would know exactly what to do in a hazardous situation.

13% say their company handbook is never updated

Despite UK health and safety laws being constantly updated in order to keep them accurate and relevant, 13% of employees said their company’s safety handbook has never been updated since they first received it. And perhaps more worrying is that almost a third (31%) do not actually think that their handbook ever needs to be updated.

The survey was conducted as part of WorkMobile’s ‘Work Safe’ report, which looks at the current state of health and safety in the UK and where improvements need to be made to protect workers.

Adrian Lewis, Commercial Director for Activ People HR said:

“I’m saddened, but not surprised by today’s news.

“We created our online staff handbook precisely because as legislation is changing at a rapid pace, and it’s hard to keep the policies up to date, never mind distribute them quickly and record compliance.  Having policies online means that HR can issue updates when needed, without incurring big printing costs or administration nightmares.

“No matter what methods are used, businesses cannot afford to ignore their health and safety responsibilities.”

Colin Yates, chief support officer at WorkMobile, said:

“UK bosses have a legal responsibility to keep their employees safe, so it’s extremely concerning to see that many are not even taking the most basic of steps to fulfil this duty.

“Failing to supply workers with information and guidance on health and safety policies could land business owners with a hefty fine, or even a prison sentence in extreme cases. But, along with risking legal action, businesses are also potentially putting their employees in serious danger. When staff are not trained on how to work safely, there is a greater risk of accidents happening.

“Every employee has the right to feel safe in their place of work, and it’s up to business owners to provide this. And given that society is becoming more innovative, with working practices constantly being improved, there is no excuse for not obeying with the law and fulfilling their business obligations.”

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