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The McOnie Agency on behalf of the British Safety Council


Over half of UK businesses making cutbacks this year say that bosses’ bonuses will be the first to go before health and safety management, according to a new survey from the British Safety Council (BSC).

However, the results of the survey are not all good news as the recession is having a significant effect on health and safety in the workplace, which could put lives at risk. One in 10 workers is fearful of raising concerns about Health and Safety issues in the current economic climate. And one in 12 workers feels under pressure from their boss to take risks with people’s safety in order to save money. With one person a day in the UK dying in the workplace this is a real cause for concern.

The BSC’s second annual survey into the attitudes of bosses and workers to safety in the workplace revealed that while 95% of bosses said they were confident about what they were legally required to do to make their workplace safe, a quarter (26%) of them were not aware of the three main pieces of safety legislation and advice (the Health and Safety (Offences) Act, the Corporate Manslaughter Act and the Institute of Directors’ ‘Guidance for Directors’).

Launching the survey Brian Nimick, Chief Executive of the British Safety Council, said:
“No one should have to work in a situation where they fear for their safety because of unsafe practices. There needs to be a clearly defined “safe to work” covenant between workers and bosses if we are to make the workplace in the UK and elsewhere as safe as possible.

“Even in the current challenging financial climate facing industry, now is not the time to make health and safety costs a casualty of cut backs.”.

While the majority of workers (70%) feel more inclined to be productive in an environment where their employer is attentive to their health, safety and wellbeing, only just over half of bosses (59%) now think that a proactive approach to health and safety enhances the bottom line compared to 72% in 2007.

In 2007/08 non-existent or inferior health & safety measures in the workplace killed 229 men and women and injured 136,000 employees – costing industry £7.8bn.

Workers feel safer

The survey shows a noticeable improvement in workers’ perceptions of their own safety since opinion was first measured in 2007. The proportion who feels ‘very safe’ has increased significantly, from 57% to 71%, while the proportion who does not feel safe has dropped from 7% to 4%. Overall, 96% of employees now feel safe at work, with 98% of bosses believing their workplace to be safe.

And in the regions

Employees in Wales feel the safest in the UK, with 84% saying they feel very safe compared to two thirds (67%) in 2007. Perceptions of workplace safety are particularly high in Yorkshire and Humberside, the South West, the East Midlands and East Anglia.

The area of concern is the North West, where just less than half of workers feel very safe (49%, a decline from 61% in 2007). A worrying 17% in the region say their employer is bad at reminding them of their health and safety responsibilities, compared with a national average of 6%.

Sector safety

When it comes to sectors, those who work in the construction industry have shown a marked improvement in their perception of safety, with only 2% feeling unsafe compared with 21% in 2007.

The catering/hospitality sector seems to be lagging in terms of workers’ feelings of safety, with one in 10 (11%) not feeling safe a work compared to an average of 4%. A quarter of workers (24%) here say they are now less likely to raise a health and safety concern with their employer, due to the economic climate, compared with an average of 11%.

Consumer Analysis Limited interviewed 1000 employees from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland ; and 254 bosses from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland during February and March 2009.

The full report is available to view online or download at and includes quotes, regional statistics and a selection of case studies from BSC members.


For media enquiries/interviews please contact :
John O’Sullivan
BSC Press Office
0208 600 1050

Pauline Gillan
The McOnie Agency
Tel: 01483 237230
Fax: 01483 237234

Editor’s notes:
Founded in 1957, and operating in over 50 countries, the British Safety Council (BSC) is one of the world’s leading independent authorities on occupational health and safety. As a registered charity with a global network of 8,000 members and subscribers, the BSC provides information, audits, expert training and qualifications, all designed to promote a healthier, safer and more sustainable society, and in the longer term, to influence these agendas on the worldwide stage. The BSC is the only organisation to offer the fullest suite of health and safety qualifications, including the NEBOSH National General Certificate and IOSH, IIRSM and IEMA accredited Diploma courses.

Press Release Details:
Issued: May 2009
From: British Safety Council
Job No: 6320

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