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Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) for workers has improved significantly over the last 30 years and fatal injuries are now rare events.

HSE (Health and Safety Executive) report an estimated 84% reduction in the number of fatal injuries since 1974. Non-fatal injuries reported are also continuing a downward trend.

The UK is one of the best performing member states in the EU with rates of fatal injuries lower than other large economic blocks such as France, Germany, Italy and Spain; however, probably due to increased awareness, there has been a rising trend in recent years of stress, depression and anxiety being self-reported. With these conditions accounting for 44% of work-related ill health and 54% of working days lost in 2018/19 in Great Britain, organisations need to continue to monitor their health and safety management.

The only other increasing trend since 1974 is in the number of deaths from mesothelioma, mainly linked to exposure to asbestos prior to 1980. This is because symptoms do not appear until around 20 years after exposure (white asbestos was banned in the UK in 1999).

HSE statistics for fatal injuries

Provisional figures for 2018/19 released by HSE currently show that 147 workers were killed in Great Britain during this period (date source RIDDOR).

Agriculture, forestry and fishing currently have the highest number of reported deaths (32) closely followed by the construction industry (30) with manufacturing next (26).

The cause of most fatal accidents in the workplace is falls from height, followed by struck by moving vehicles.

These figures do not include deaths involving workers involved in road traffic accidents or workers travelling by air or sea and other exclusions that are recorded by other reporting authorities.

Continuing to improve the health of workers

  • There are many factors that have contributed to the general decline in reported workplace accidents in the UK:
  • The statutory obligation to report deaths, injuries and diseases that occur at work
  • Regulations that require employers to implement health and safety standards
  • Prosecution and fines for organisations in breach of regulations
  • Identification of the risks to employees whilst carrying out their work, through risk assessments
  • General awareness that has created a more safety-conscious environment
  • Management systems that provide organisations with a framework to effectively manage their health and safety responsibilities.

21st-century Occupational Health and Safety risks

Accidents and fatalities are well recorded and monitored by HSE. However, new areas for concern have been highlighted that can have an impact on the health of employees and cost employers time and money through worker absence and reduced productivity:
  1. Worker fatigue is estimated to cost the UK between £115 to £240 million each year according to HSE. Shift workers are particularly vulnerable. Night shifts and working long shifts with limited breaks can increase the number of accidents and injuries. Fatigue slows reaction time, reduces coordination and leads to the underestimation of risk, among other things. It has been the root cause of some of the most notorious accidents in recent history such as Herald of Free Enterprise, Chernobyl and Exxon Valdez.
  2. Mental health problems cost the UK economy between 74 billion and 99 billion per year with costs to employers of between 33 billion and 42 billion per year according to the “Thriving at work” report published in 2017. An HSE report in 2019 covering work-related stress, anxiety and depression in Great Britain states that 12.8 million working days were lost with 602,000 workers suffering from the condition. Common causes were tight deadlines, too much responsibility and lack of managerial support.
  3. Work-related violence is treated the same as any other risk related to working in the eyes of the law. In 2017/18 there were 694,000 incidents of violence at work. HSE’s definition of work-related violence is “Any incident in which a person is abused, threatened or assaulted in circumstances relating to their work”.
  4. Employers have a legal duty to manage the risks that these health and safety issues present. They are responsible for reporting incidents and initiating measures to control and manage the risks.
With regulations and management duties enforced under the Health and Safety at work Act, fines and even imprisonment are handed out by the courts for businesses and individuals who do not comply with the law. The coroner, HSE, police and CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) can all be involved in an investigation into work-related deaths.

Maintaining an effective health and safety management system will provide a framework to help reduce deaths, accidents and poor health for employees and provide a safe environment for them to work. Employers will also benefit by reducing absenteeism and improving productivity.

You can find all the statistics here http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics and elsewhere on the HSE website.

Internationally recognised management system ISO 45001 (OHSAS 18001)

Health-and-Safety-proceduresFor organisations wanting to gain certification to a globally recognised health and safety standard, ISO 45001 certification will help reduce work-related injuries and increase production by minimising downtime.

Having a well-documented management system in place provides a framework that will demonstrate your commitment to the welfare of your employees and customers and help to reduce incidents and injury.

With the manufacturing and construction sectors being in the top 3 for reported workplace deaths, it is not surprising that organisations in these sectors regularly gain ISO 45001 certification to provide a management system that will reduce accidents and deaths in their workplace.

The recent migration of OHSAS 18001 to ISO 45001 has moved the standard to a different focus. Where OHSAS 18001 focussed exclusively on risk, ISO 45001 considers risk and opportunity and is process-based as opposed to procedure based. The changes will provide an improved framework to control and manage workplace safety.

The ISO 45001 assessment process

For organisations certified to ISO 45001, regular surveillance visits and audits are carried out to ensure your management system is maintained and is constantly evolving to keep up with the latest risks and regulations.

During an audit, which is carried out by a Certification Body, one of the areas you will be assessed on is document control. By documenting and investigating accidents and monitoring injuries you will be able to identify areas for improvement to prevent injury and ill-health in the future.

Steps can be taken to train employees, provide protective equipment or clothing, control working processes and continually monitor and review feedback on how your preventative measures are working.

The Plan, Do, Check, Act cycle (PDCA) which is the backbone of many ISO management system standards has also been adopted by HSE to: “treat health and safety management as an integral part of good management generally, rather than a stand-alone system”.

One of the main changes in the migration of OHSAS 18001 to ISO 45001 encourages top management to take the lead on incorporating the standard into the entire organisation and establish a safety culture throughout all operations of the business. The new format includes Annex SL which helps to implement the standard across multiple ISO management standards.

ISO 45001 migration from OHSAS 18001

The schedule for migration of OHSAS to ISO 45001 is taking place over a three-year period which ends on 12th March 2021. After this date, the OHSAS 18001 standard will be withdrawn.

If you currently have OHSAS 18001 certification and would like to migrate to ISO 45001, or you want to gain ISO 45001 certification for the first time, please call one of our team on 0121 241 2299 or request a quote.
Vehicle exhaust emissions on a busy roadThe British Safety Council has recently identified that air pollution is linked to 36,000 early deaths a year in the UK. They are calling on all employers with workers who regularly work outside or drive heavy goods vehicles on busy roads with high levels of pollution, to take measures to safeguard their employees from exposure.

From a small trial carried out, the most affected employees were a construction worker and HGV driver. The site engineer was found to have air pollution exposure levels six times higher than that of the office worker.

Similarities are being made between lung damage and recent compensation claims made by workers suffering from asbestosis and the potential risk of claims that could follow from high levels of pollution in some of our cities.

Currently the government is not demanding that employers address this health hazard. However, an app launched by King’s College London for the British Safety Council’s “Time to Breathe” campaign is available to outdoor workers across London to monitor the users exposure to pollution and when the amount exceeds the limits for nitrogen dioxide, particles and ozone, the user is notified. This will help employers and workers to act and reduce exposure by reducing strenuous work, putting up barriers or working away from traffic until levels improve.

The British Safety Council is calling on government to recognise exposure to ambient air pollution as an occupational health hazard and adopt the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) exposure guidelines for nitrogen dioxide, particles and ozone.

How long will it be before the government is forced to recognise the WHO exposure guidelines?

Will employers face huge claims for compensation in the future by not acting now to protect their workers?

If your employees work outdoors, it may be worth carrying out a risk assessment and taking action to limit their exposure to pollution before new legislation is in place. This could also help reduce the working days lost through work-related illness due to respiratory problems.

Health and safety for your employees
Figures released by the Health and Safety Executive for 2107/18 show:
  • 1.4 million working people suffering from a work-related illness
  • 2,595 mesothelioma deaths due to past asbestos exposures (2016)
  • 144 workers killed at work
  • 555,000 injuries occurred at work according to the Labour Force Survey 71,062 injuries to employees reported under RIDDOR
  • 30.7 million working days lost due to work-related illness and workplace injury
  • £15 billion estimated cost of injuries and ill health from current working conditions (2016/17)
‘Contains public sector information published by the Health and Safety Executive and licensed under the Open Government Licence’.

As an employer you are responsible for the health, safety and welfare of your employees and others who may be affected by your business whilst they are in the workplace.

Organisations that take their health and safety responsibilities seriously and have a management system that will minimise their risk of breaching health and safety regulations, will limit the occurrence of fines and compensation claims that can be handed down by the courts.

Health and safety management systems
iso45001-ukasThere are many ways to implement a management system into your organisation to identify and control injury and illness in your workforce. One of the most widely recognised management systems is OHSAS 18001, soon to become ISO 45001. This provides an internationally recognised framework to enable organisations to assess, manage and reduce the health and safety risks faced by their employees.

Achieving certification to OHSAS 18001 (ISO 45001) by an independent third-party certification body that has been audited by UKAS will demonstrate your commitment and competence to improve the health and safety of your workforce. It will enable you to meet legal obligations for your industry and minimise the risk of accidents, court cases, fines or imprisonment that can be imposed on owners and directors if negligence is proved.

OHSAS 18001 changing to ISO 45001
The process of migration is currently underway to move to the ISO platform bringing OHSAS 18001 in line with other internationally recognised ISO standards.
The 3-year migration process will end on 12th March 2021 and organisations with OHSAS 18001 certification will have to be re-certified to the new standard by this date.

Find out more about the migration and what to do next: www.acsregistrars.com/ohsas-18001
ConstructionWhen businesses think about occupational health and safety, they tend to focus on the safety aspect of employees while carrying out their roles within the work environment.

The prevention of accidents through risk assessments, employee training and implementing controls that minimise hazards in the workplace are some of the areas they tend to focus on. However, we are hearing more about mental health problems on the news and in social media. The illness no longer has the same stigma attached to it and sufferers are more inclined to discuss their problems.

Thanks to this awareness, employees are being encouraged to share mental health problems with their employers before their condition gets critical.

Colleagues are more inclined to help sufferers in the same way they would support a physical injury. Many companies now include mental health and awareness training as well as health and safety courses.

According to NHS digital:
  • In England a sixth of the population between the ages 16 to 64 have a mental health problem.
  • Between 1993 and 2014 there has been a steady increase in people with severe symptoms.
“Contains information from NHS Digital, licensed under the current version of the Open Government Licence”.

Cost to businesses
In a report published in an independent review of mental health and employers titled “Thriving at work”, poor mental health costs employers between £33 billion and £42 billion a year, with an annual cost to the UK economy of between £74 billion and £99 billion.

Giving similar priority to mental health and wellbeing that is given to prevention of accidents, makes sound commercial sense.

The migration of OHSAS 18001 to ISO 45001* provides an ideal opportunity to review all your health and safety procedures at the same time. The emphasis on a risk-based approach with leadership from top management and increased employee involvement will help organisations establish the changes needed to provide a safer working environment and healthier workforce.

Though the new ISO 45001 standard includes mental health within occupational health and wellbeing, it does not go into detail. It will be up to individual leaders within the organisation to implement systems that will increase awareness, train employees and maintain processes to provide the support needed by staff with mental health issues.

Mental health
Causes of mental health problems can stem from a variety of sources including:
  • Issues buried from an early age.
  • Personal problems at home such as a bereavement.
  • Stress or anxiety at work.
Some industries are particularly prone to stress; the Office for National Statistics highlighted that between 2011 and 2015 more than 1,400 construction workers took their own lives.

As awareness of mental illness increases and the problems posed by a more mobile and insecure workforce (no jobs for life) grow, it is likely that mental health issues in the workplace will continue to climb into the future. Businesses will have to get to grips with improving the health, as well as the safety, of their workforce.

*Footnote: OHSAS 18001 is currently being migrated to ISO 45001. A 3-year migration period is now in progress ending on 12th March 2021. After this date OHSAS 18001 will be withdrawn.
One of the key changes to the revised ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 standards and the migration of OHSAS 18001 to ISO 45001 is the increased priority given to risk-based thinking across all areas of an organisation.

The changes to these standards require a pro-active approach by management and particularly top management, to identify and manage the risks associated with the operations of the organisation.

If you are not already aware, ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 revisions are complete and all audits are now carried out to the revised standards; old certification prior to September 2018 is now invalid. OHSAS 18001 is currently being migrated over a period of 3 years. The final date for migration to ISO 45001 is 12th March 2021.

Risk is inherent in every organisation; whether you are a business or institution, profit or non-profit, every decision made and operation undertaken involves an element of risk.
Risks to an organisation may include:
  • Risks to employees and customers from health and safety issues.
  • Risks from disasters such as fire and flooding.
  • Environmental risks from business operations.
  • Risks associated with industry regulations.
  • Security risks to physical structures including IT infrastructure from cybercrime.
  • Risks to the financial security of the organisation.
Risk management planning
Risk_ManagementPreparing a risk management plan will help you to achieve certification to the above standards.  It will also provide the organisation with a framework to identify risk, assess the frequency and impact of the risk and work out a process to manage the risk.

Time and resources need to be allocated to the process by top management and implemented throughout the organisation. An effective plan will increase profitability, reduce costly incidents and create a safer environment for your employees.
Your plan may include:
  • A list of risks that could affect all areas of the organisation.
  • An analysis of the risk and rank the likelihood and level of effect.
  • How you will manage the risk.
  • Implementation of ongoing monitoring and reviewing.
Depending on your organisation, a good way to start might be by setting up a risk matrix to rank the risks you have identified.

Ranking the impact of a risk on the organisation between a range of “negligible” to “critical”, for example, and including an estimate of the financial loss and the disruption it would cause, will provide information to help you to manage and minimise the risks going forward.

The above could provide the framework that your ISO auditor will be looking for when they audit your organisation for certification to the revised standards.

If you need help with your risk management planning, call one of our team on 0121 241 2299.
ISO 45001 is the new occupational health and safety standard and organisations currently certified to the OHSAS 18001 standard should now be going through the migration process ready for their next audit.

OHSAS 18001 certification remains valid until 12th March 2021; after this date, certification will be withdrawn.

ISO_45001_standardThe new standard is well suited to the building and construction industry whether you are a large construction company or smaller SME. However, the standard will be used throughout all industry sectors to improve occupational health and safety for employees.

The new standard is ideal for organisations with building sites that have multiple subcontractors as well as direct employees on site. The framework of ISO 45001 will help you to manage health and safety, identify risks and reduce hazards. Management of subcontractors can be coordinated in line with an integrated occupational health and safety plan for all parties on site.

ISO 45001 is part of the set of ISO standards such as ISO 9001, the widely recognised quality management system, or ISO 14001 environmental management system. Any organisation already certified to these most popular standards will find the integration of ISO 45001 far simpler because of the Annex SL framework. This provides a standardised framework across many of the ISO standards to save time and resources during the certification process.

Worker safety is paramount
Ill health, stress and injury statistics in construction are some of the highest across all industry sectors.
According to HSE figures for 2016/2017 construction sector in Great Britain:
  • 80,000 workers are suffering from work related ill health each year (LFS).
  • 30 fatal injuries to workers in 2016/2017 (RIDDOR).
  • 64,000 non-fatal injuries to workers each year (LFS).
Source from http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/industry/construction/index.htm

Benefits of ISO 45001 certification to your business
This globally recognised ISO standard with third party verification will help companies win new business by demonstrating to clients that they comply with legal requirements and are committed to making the workplace a safer environment. Some clients may even make it a requirement when tendering for business.

ISO 45001 provides a framework for continuous improvement to manage health and safety and identify hazards for future projects.

If you need help with migration from OHSAS 18001 to ISO 45001 or are thinking of gaining certification to the new standard, one of our team of lead auditors will be able to tell you more about the process.