So how often then are the two words considered separately?
Health, measures we implement to protect from short, but more commonly medium to long term ill-health.
Safety, measures we implement to protect from mostly short term or immediate injury.
So which one are we better at managing?
The Health and Safety Executive track statistics on both sides, so making a comparison is fairly easy.
142 workers were killed from safety injuries and 13,000 deaths from work related ill-health conditions, predominately cancer.
A percentage split of 1% vs 99%
Working Days Lost
4.1 million from workplace injury, 23.3 million from work-related ill health.
Ill health accounts for 85% of sickness absence
(Health and Safety Statistics 2014/15, hse.gov.uk)
From these two statistics alone we can conclude that ill-health has a significant effect on our workforce, resulting in a large economic cost.
Why are we not as good at managing ill-health?
The diseases that are the biggest killers at work come from long term exposure to hazardous substances.
Being exposed to these hazardous substances will most likely not harm us over a period of days, weeks and months, so we may not perceive the risk to our health.
These conditions may be unseen with very few symptoms for us to notice.
Often only when a disease is diagnosed are questions asked and further controls implemented.
For non-fatal ill-health, stress should be the greatest concern. 43% of all working days lost due to ill-health were stress related, with an average of 23 days lost per case.
Symptoms of stress can manifest in many different ways, however they are often noticeable and early intervention will assist in managing the situation before it escalates into lost time.
We all need to have an understanding of what can affect our health in the workplace and what controls are needed to manage the risk.
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