December 16, 2020

What is the Real Cost of Poor H&S Policies?

Not taking health and safety seriously can not only put your workers at risk, but also your finances. Considering what the implications policies can have, it’s important that they are not an afterthought for your business.

To enable companies to offer their services at a competitive price point, it can be tempting for them to cut costs in important areas. Often this is achieved by cutting down on essential health and safety equipment, put in place to protect employees from harm. A recent fatal accident of a worker in a construction firm brings this point to prominence.

In this case, a customer bought a competitively priced solution for replacing skylights, quoted by a roofing contractor at £7,865. However, in order to achieve this low price point and undercut their competitors, the director of the roofing contractor failed to provide the industry standard of safety equipment for its workers, putting their staff at risk. As a result, one of the roofers, a 59-year-old, fell through one of the skylights and sadly died.

Not only did cutting down on health and safety equipment lead to a tragic accident, it also lead to hefty fines for the contractor (£130,000 in fines, and £15,970 in costs) as well as a charge of gross manslaughter. In the end, the customer paid £17,000 for their skylights, over double the original quote.

This incident is one of many where more companies are under scrutiny due to poor conditions or improper safety equipment.

At the start of 2020, a leading online retailer received criticism for poor working conditions, including lack of safety equipment and long shifts leading to increased risk in their warehouses. Over 600 accidents in the company’s UK warehouses in 3 years prompted a parliamentary enquiry. More recently, Amnesty International has been putting pressure on the same online retailer to respect workers’ rights during the busy Black Friday and Christmas season.

In these instances, we can see that not prioritising workers’ welfare in your business always has serious consequences. Likewise, not being willing to pay the necessary price for services can put contractors under pressure to deliver cheaper solutions at the expense of safety. Maintaining rigorous, industry-standard safety procedures can not only save a companies’ finances and reputation, it can also save lives.

If you need advice on health and safety policies and practises, you can download our brochure here.

Sources: IOSH Magazine, Aljazeera, The Guardian

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About the author

Philip Barker

About the author

Philip Barker

Philip has worked for Moorepay for over nine years, starting as a Health & Safety Consultant in February 2008 before taking up the position of Consultancy Manager in January 2015. Coming from a retail background, both as a store manager and health & safety professional, he already had a good cross industry experience. Working at Moorepay has provided an opportunity to broaden both knowledge and experience across a wide range of industry sectors. Philip started his health & safety career after a number of years managing retail stores and holds a HNC in Environmental Health Studies, a Diploma in Environmental Policy and a NEBOSH Diploma.

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