The real cost of an unhealthy workplace on your employees

Investing in a healthy workplace proves cost effective for small businesses.

Ensuring you have a healthy workplace is a vital yet oven overlooked element of running a business. It is sometimes seen as an added expense, a distraction from the important things in a job, and something that can always be pushed back in favour of other priorities.

Unfortunately, many small businesses learn about the value of having a healthy workplace the hard way: when an employee ends up taking sick leave at a loss to the business; when the conditions are so poor that their mood and productivity worsens; or when the sickness is so severe that a worker takes legal action against the company.

Figures from MI Supplies, in fact, show that over 100 people per week die from work-related ill health in some industries such as construction.

Health related problems small businesses might encounter can include the improper use of hazardous substances, illnesses caused by lack of heating, high exposure to sunlight, biological hazards from bacteria, bodily fluids or viruses, and musculoskeletal problems from poor seating.

All of them are easy to fix. Investing in training, products and equipment to prevent these issues may come at a small initial cost. However, it can also help your business save money in the long run by reducing sick days, increasing employee retention and avoiding PR disasters.

Health and safety laws

Regardless of whether you see health training as a nuisance or a necessity, one thing is clear – it is the law in the UK. The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 sets out a duty for employers to provide information, instruction, training and supervision as is necessary to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health of your employees.

It details a wide range of duties for employers and how they must protect the health and welfare of all employees. Although employers can argue that certain measures are not justified by the cost for their specific environment, this does not excuse them from their responsibilities if they simply could not afford the improvements.

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 is another set of guidelines imposed to help identify situations where health training is especially important. This could, for example, be to help new employees become familiar with the demands of their role, or ensure existing staff members are fully trained on new processes and risks.

The financial impact of failing to comply with these regulations could be costly for any business.
Promote a healthy working environment

At the core of any business is its staff. Educating staff members on workplace health issues will help reduce the risk of accidents, injuries or sickness. This could be anything from showing staff members how to use protective gear to encouraging the use of hand sanitizers before handling certain products.

Moreover, ensuring employees feel safe and valued can increase overall employee retention. Taking the time to invest in health training will build up staff loyalty. Whether this is a thorough induction scheme for new starters, or ensuring there are regular updates and actions being taken to address issues within the workplace, the positives gained from the employee’s happiness will quickly outweigh the cost of organising the training itself.

A healthy work environment leads to increased confidence in the company and this will ultimately lead to a happier, more productive workforce.

Protect employees, protect your reputation

Complying with health and safety regulations is essential when building up positive brand awareness. Whether you’re looking to build press coverage, launch a new recruitment drive or become a leading authority in your industry, it’s important to lead by example when it comes to health and safety.

In the event of an accident in the workplace, the first thing that will be investigated is the business’s compliance with health and safety laws. The fallout from admitting there has been lapses in risk assessments or overall training can be monumental for a business of any size.

Ultimately, by protecting your employees’ health you are protecting the reputation of your company. Is it worth taking the risk and damaging your favourability as a business?

Can you really ignore the costs?

Each business, from global corporations to SMEs and start-ups, has a duty to protect its employees. Far too often, training staff to be healthy in a workplace is pushed down the priority list by those who do not believe that risks are involved in their line of work.

In reality, whether you’re working with machinery, liquids or in a 9-5 office environment, the presence of risk is always there, and businesses must do what they can to create a healthy working environment. It only takes one incident to set in motion a chain of events that could irreparably damage your business.

Article provided by MI Supplies.

Further reading on healthy workplace

Owen Gough, SmallBusiness UK

Owen Gough

Owen was a reporter for Bonhill Group plc writing across the and titles before moving on to be a Digital Technology reporter for the

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Workplace wellbeing

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