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Firms ‘underestimating health risks’

1 June 2011

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Businesses are losing their competitive edge because of a failure to tackle injury and illness in the workplace, a study has warned.

A survey of more than 850 businesses by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) found many are underestimating the cost of work-related accidents and ill health, which HSE figures show cost UK businesses nearly £8bn a year combined, with absenteeism, low productivity and legal bills among the financial hits faced by bosses.

The HSE estimates the overall cost of health and safety failings to the British economy is £22bn, including welfare and health bills, but only 7% of those surveyed guessed this figure correctly. A third underestimated the costs 100-fold, putting the figure at just £220m.

Four in 10 businesses said that health and safety was a top-three priority for them in preparing for the economic upturn. IOSH said that this figure was encouraging but that many businesses are still “missing a trick”.

IOSH president Steve Granger said: “As well as the primary aim of saving people’s lives and livelihoods, good occupational health and safety can also deliver vital cost savings and help your business to grow.”

Copyright © Press Association 2011

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