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Promoting a positive health and safety culture on World Day for Health and Safety at Work 2024

World Day for Health and Safety at Work is observed each year on 28th of April by the ILO (International Labour Organization). This initiative was introduced by the ILO in 2003 with the mission to promote healthy and safe workplaces around the world.

The mission is an observed awareness-raising campaign to get the international attention at huge scale to promote positive health and safety culture at workplaces. April is also the international commemoration day for dead and injured workers which is organised worldwide by the trade union movement since 1996. Further, in 2022, the ILO adopted healthy and safe work environment as a fundamental right and principle at work to promote this mission more effectively.

The human cost

According to IOSH (Institute of Occupational Safety and Health) around 7,500 people die at work each day around the globe and it’s estimated by them that around 2.78 million people die each year due to work-related illnesses or accidents. According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) UK, there were 135 workplace deaths recorded in the UK alone in 2022/23 as follows:

  • 45 in the construction industry
  • 21 in agriculture, forestry and fishing
  • 15 in manufacturing
  • 15 in wholesale, retail, motor repair, accommodation and food
  • 15 in transport and storage
  • 6 in administration and support services
  • 6 in waste and recycling
  • 12 in other industrial sectors

These statistics highlight the industrial sectors in which more focus on health and safety is required due to workplace risk to ensure that workers, visitors, and stakeholders are safe. Unfortunately, most of the deaths were young people from age 16 to 59.

The major reason of fatal accidents was falling from height followed by being struck by a moving object and moving vehicles respectively. This includes fatal injuries from industrial vehicles as well such as fork-lift trucks.

The financial cost

The HSE highlights that Britain lost around £20.7 billion in 2021/22 due to workplace injury and ill-health, with ill-health resulting in a loss of £13.1 billion and injuries a loss of £7.7 billion in total. Despite these disturbing statistics, some employers still feel that investing in health and safety can result in their financial loss, which is totally contradictory. According to the British Safety Council, organisations on average save £12 for every £1 spent on health and safety, hence resulting in a big return on investment. For example, Parcelforce Worldwide saved £55 million by introducing workplace screening clinics.

Working safely is like breathing – if you don’t, you die.

Keeping in mind the priority of saving lives and preventing injuries and accidents, this World Day for Safety and Health at Work, let’s aim to promote a positive health and safety culture at our workplaces and further the mission of the ILO to promote healthy and safe workplaces around the world. As American Footballer Jerry Smith once said, “Working safely is like breathing – if you don’t, you die”.