A survey by National Accident Helpline found that 62% of employees believed their employer has placed less emphasis on health and safety since the recession hit. So we can now add occupational health to the long list of downturn casualties, which already includes advertising budgets, expenses accounts and, as of today, the uniforms of female members of staff on National Express trains (which have been handed back because the thin material is too see-through).
This somewhat negative view of employers' provisions seems to back up widespread fears that the harsher economic climate would lead to a drop in spending on safety initiatives. Indeed, when your bean-counters are scratching their heads over columns that refuse to add up, little signs saying ‘caution: very hot water' above the tepid hot-water tap may well seem more expendable all of a sudden.
The figures come just days after the Health and Safety Executive revealed that 34 million work days are lost annually as a result of work-related illness or injury. That's 1.4 days for every British worker. Understandably the National Accident Helpline is citing this in its argument that the cutting of health and safety budgets constitutes a false economy.
It may be cheaper to knock the thermostat down a few notches, but when that means your staff then all cry off for a couple of days with the sniffles, it doesn't really make sense. And that's not to mention the myriad legal responsibilities and chances of compensation claims. That's a peril that few employers are in a fit state to risk.
In today's bulletin:
RBS and Lloyds to add £1.5trn to national debt
UBS coughs up names and cash in US tax probe
B&Q UK slide drags down Kingfisher sales
Business blames bizzies for climbing crime costs
Employers worried about their health, not safety