by Jennifer Hamlin

Save lives, save money: the business benefits of health and safety

The British Safety Council’s new report provides evidence that businesses benefit from investing in health and safety. The true story of health and safety is that such investments can save lives and save money. We need this message to get across if we are to achieve our vision that no-one is injured or made ill at work.

All too often the news about health and safety is of regulations that are a burden on business, that waste time and precious resource and that as a society we are becoming too risk averse. What is less reported or well-known is how successfully managing risks at work enables organisations to be successful, to be innovative and actually take risks. It is in this context that the British Safety Council wanted to assess the actual evidence for the financial and non-financial benefits of taking action to keep people safe and well at work.

The business benefits of health and safety: a literature review pulls together 20 years of evidence exploring the benefits of health and safety. The most recent research by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) shows the true cost of accidents, injuries and ill health to the UK economy to be £13.8bn. Globally over 2.2 million people are killed by work activities, causing an estimated 4% loss of global GDP. Other sources of evidence came from Eurostat and the European Agency for Occupational Safety. In total over 50 pieces of evidence were assessed and the findings grouped into costs, benefits and return on investment.

Benefits from good health and safety include reduced sickness absence, increased productivity and an enhanced reputation. 61% of workers said they would work harder for an employer who invested in their health. Another study shows that changing the way tasks are carried out to prevent work-related back injuries is an opportunity for an employer to improve the operation and efficiency of their business. The review shows how a £16,000 investment to tackle back injuries resulted in £192,000 of savings and benefits due to reduced sickness absence, better productivity and lower insurance premia.

This potential for a return on investment in managing work-related risks is the real story of health and safety, not the myths of conkers being banned. And it’s a story that should be better known.

Get in touch if you want a copy of the report or have information to share on generating benefits from implementing improvements to health and safety. Please contact Matthew Holder at

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