The British Occupational Hygiene Society (BOHS) has recently highlighted the link between good workplace health and sustainable development goals for UK businesses.
Adding to the list of ‘global fundamental rights’, a healthy working environment is listed by the International Labour Organisation as a basic human right for workers.
For this reason, the BOHS and the Chartered Society for Worker Health Protection have created a guide that allows employers to link employee health with environmental goals. Arguing that by preventing ill-health helps organisations ‘demonstrate their sustainability credentials’.
Sustainability is about workplace health, as well as our planet
Professor Kevin Bampton, CEO for the BOHS and former United Nations Special Adviser said in a recent article that “Sustainability is about the environment, nature and the planet – but it is also about people,”
Speaking on the topic of sustainability, he goes on to say that we have a ‘throwaway approach’ to packing and consumer goods. The idea of something lasting forever seems lost on our society. And, interestingly, he noted that as a nation, we have a ‘disposable’ approach to our workers.
Are we allowing our workforce to become ill through poorly managed workplace health hazards? Moreover, are we sending workers back into the same environment without addressing those hazards?
The working environment is managed by people. Yet as people we are ‘allowing’ other people to become unwell or suffer injuries through poor workplace health and safety. Is this as simple as it seems? Or could there be more to consider?
What are workplace health hazards?
The idea that workplace hazards are embedded in all businesses is something the BOHS is campaigning to change. They say that the narrative of accepting the dangers that exist within some industries needs to stop. This is because ill health and hazards are entirely preventable.
Workplace health hazards can exist because something is missing in the compliance process. Ensuring that potential hazards are risk assessed and monitored long term is the basic legal requirement of all UK businesses over 5 employees. So why are we still seeing huge numbers of life changing accidents and death arising from occupational hazards?
Numbers of occupational injuries can be prevented
Alarming figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) report that as many as 1.2 million UK workers suffer from occupational diseases. However, most of these cases could be prevented with the correct regulation compliance.
These worrying statistics from the HSE also state that for every 1 person who suffers an accident at work, around 100 people die as a result of occupational disease. Are UK businesses overlooking the causes of poor workplace health? And are we sending at-risk employees back into the same environment?
The idea that health issues like occupational lung disease are occurring year on year, may lead to a time when finding the right workers is impossible. Taking our most skilled employees for granted, with the concept that they are easily replaceable is not helping businesses in the long term. Therefore, not creating sustainability for their business.
BOHS President, and Principal Scientist at HSE, Chris Keen says that “the vast majority of these (illnesses) are relatively easy to prevent and avoid. At a time where it’s getting harder to find the right workers, it makes perfect sense for business sustainability to focus on the health of their workers, in the same way as they would want to look after any other key asset. This guide helps organisational leadership place worker health within their general sustainability strategy”.
Workplace health – An important company asset
Just like a website or building, workplace health needs to be treated as a company asset. As part of your company’s sustainability objectives, you will need to demonstrate compliance with the HSE. This is regardless of the industry you work in. What’s more, if a health hazard has been identified, you need to work towards eradicating the hazard, or finding a way to protect the health of your employees long term.
With Safety First Group you can rest assured that your compliance needs are taken care of. By highlighting workplace health hazards and high-risk employees, we can help you to achieve HSE compliance before one of your workforce becomes a statistic.
Over the years we’ve visited many different types of business. But the constant that remains is that health hazards and diseases will remain until you take action!
Ready to get started?
Visit our dedicated occupational hygiene pages here, or email us via firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively if you prefer to have a chat with one of our technicians, you can call 0845 004 2133.
The BOHS guide to Workplace Health and the UN Sustainable Development Goals is free to download here .