Moral, Legal & Financial Arguments for Health and Safety


The arguments for health and safety have never been more apparent.

Society has growing expectations regarding good standards of health and safety.

Organisations must ensure that their activities do not harm their employees, contractors, visitors or the public. They are morally, legally and financially obliged to do so.

The moral argument for health & safety

The moral arguments for health and safety relate to ethical and responsible behaviors.

Accidents at work can lead to serious injury, and even death. It’s not morally correct to sacrifice human health for an organisation’s activities.

Therefore the moral argument for health and safety is often the strongest for employees.

Employee rights and expectations

Employees have the right to the provision of a safe place of work. This is implied by the employer’s duty of care. However, there are also expectations placed on employees to exercise reasonable care in their own actions at work.

Employees must therefore behave in a manor which does not jeopardize their own health and safety, or the health and safety of others. This includes co-operating with their employer in the use of safe working practices as provided.

Both the employee and the employer have a common law duty of care to each other, and to other employees. Both must exercise reasonable care in order to protect others from the risks of foreseeable injury.

In the UK, the health and safety at work act lays down strict requirements. No-one, except domestic servants, is outside of it’s scope. Employees and employers alike must conform to the act or face the legal consequences.

The financial argument for health & safety

Personal financial loss resulting from an injury at work can have far reaching effects on those involved. The financial loss to the company could be almost as devastating.

Research published in 1993 by the UK Health and Safety Executive showed the highlighted the hidden costs of workplace accidents.

The research showed that the uninsured costs associated with workplace accidents were eight to thirty-six times greater than insured costs.

Insured costs

  • Injury cover
  • Ill health cover
  • Damage cover

Uninsured costs

  • Product / material damage
  • Plant / building damage
  • Tool / equipment damage
  • Legal costs
  • Fines

Hidden uninsured costs

Many organisations don’t know the true potential cost of accidents. It is often assumed that most accident and incident costs are recoverable through insurance. This is a dangerous misconception.

The true effect on a organisations resources can be stretching and may include:

  • Expenditure on emergency supplies
  • Clearing of the site, production process or occupied space.
  • Diverting of mangers / supervisors time
  • Production delays and consequent overtime expenditure
  • Loss of expertise / experience
  • Investigation time and clerical efforts
  • Sick pay and temporary labour
  • Loss of contracts, reputation and sales

How does good H&S management maximise profits?

A workforce will be more motivated if they feel that their employer cares for their welfare. Effective health and safety management should result in the workforce embracing health and safety guidance and adopting safe working practices.

A motivated workforce has numerous benefits including:

  • Less absenteeism
  • Improved quality and production speeds
  • Improved production speeds

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