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Complacency towards work safety increases risk for employers

28th Oct 2003
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More than a third of British workers say their safety at work is compromised by insufficient office safety equipment, raising risk issues for employers, according to research by Accenture HR Services.

The survey of nearly 500 full-time and part-time UK office workers also found that more than one in three workers said they would take legal action against their employers if they had an accident at work. The research shows that this trend is set to grow, as younger employees are more likely than older workers to sue their employers after a workplace accident.

David Clinton, CEO, Accenture HR Services, said the findings should send a clear warning to employers. In spring 2004, a change in legislation will lay the onus for conducting fire risk assessments on employers, not local fire authorities. The impact on employers could be significant, as insurers are likely to demand proof that risk assessments have been carried out.

Less than half of workers surveyed having participated in fire drills in the last three months, and more than a third saying they do not understand how to use existing fire safety equipment in their workplaces.

"This culture of complacency could present a serious financial burden for British companies if it remains unchecked," said Clinton. "Unfortunately, employers tend to look toward safety policies and procedures after an accident. However, safety needs to be about prevention, not just a cure."

Essential safety tips for HR and Safety managers

. Monitor your organisation’s safety performance, not just the number of accidents, and use the metrics to accurately evaluate and report your safety record
· Keep abreast of forthcoming safety legislation and assess its impact on your organisation in advance
· Be aware of the impact a poor safety record can have on your organisation’s brand and credibility
· Provide regular safety training for all employees
· Ensure you are not importing safety risks into your organisation through, for example, purchasing and contracting.

Essential safety tips to communicate to employers

· Find out where your nearest emergency exit is and make sure you and your colleagues are prepared for an emergency situation
· Ensure you know how to use equipment required for you to do your job
· Find out who is responsible for safety management in your workplace and co-operate with them
· Be vigilant and report any potential safety hazards to the nominated safety contact, or your manager
· Take your own safety at work seriously and request any training you may feel necessary
· Transfer this approach to your home and family, especially if you are a home worker.

The research also found that in an emergency, more than three-quarters of female workers said they would stop to take their handbags with them when evacuating a building and a quarter of men said they would stop to take their mobile phones in an emergency.

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