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What would your office look like without health and safety?

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There’s no denying that health and safety has gained a bad reputation in recent years, with many ridiculing its perceived over-cautious control. But as with many of today’s targets for mockery, health and safety regulations and the reasons behind them are reasonable and benefit everyone in some way, shape or form.

One of the best ways of examining how health and safety is a friend not a foe would be to imagine an office where no rules apply and the impact this would have on employers and employees alike.

Working conditions
There are a great number of directives laid down by EU-OSHA, the European Union information agency for occupational safety and health, outlining legislation concerning working conditions. These cover everything from ergonomical directives to exposure to physical hazards, as well as managing risks such as the dangers of lifting heavy weights incorrectly.

Without these, and many other health and safety requirements, your office would be a very different place to work. By not caring sufficiently for your staff’s wellbeing, days lost through illness and injury in the UK could increase to more than the current level of 27.3 million estimated from 2014-15. Inevitably, this could have a major effect on your organisation’s productivity and profitability.

Working hours
Strict regulations are in place regarding the number of hours employees are contractually obliged to work and no one should be forced to work for more than 48 hours per week, unless they have agreed in writing to do so. There are also rules concerning hours between shifts and compulsory breaks to be taken after given working periods, as well as regulations for the statutory amount of paid holiday that employees must be given.

If these rules were not in force and employees had no limits to the length of time they needed to work each day, you would soon find that they would become demotivated and more accidents would begin to occur simply because staff would be too tired to follow standard safety procedures.

Organisation reputation and profitability
If there was no regard for health and safety, your organisation’s reputation and profitability would likely suffer. Staff retention could dip if they felt that they were not working in a safe environment in which employers cared for their well-being. If your poor record of retaining staff became public knowledge, it could damage future employees joining your business.

Employees who had been unlucky enough to be injured while at work could take your organisation to court to try and win compensation – potentially damaging to both your reputation and your finances. Followed by fines that you may have to pay for breaking health and safety laws, all of which would be likely publicised. Before very long it could well become impossible to continue operating.

All in all, health and safety regulations stop looking quite so much like red tape and more like sensible rules designed to protect both organisation and employees alike – and ones which all good employers should be happy to follow to the letter.

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