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The Hidden Costs of Workplace Accidents

The Health and Safety Executive

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) plays an important role in regulating and enforcing workplace safety standards across various industries in the UK. One of its responsibilities is collecting and publishing statistics related to workplace accidents, aiming to raise awareness and promote safer working environments. While these statistics provide valuable insights, they often paint a shocking picture of workplace safety. However, it is important to recognise that these figures may not fully capture the extent of the issue.

Overview 2021/22

  • 123 workers were killed in a work-related accident
  • 565,000 working people sustained an injury at work, according to the Labour Force Survey
  • 61,713 injuries to employees reported under RIDDOR
  • 36.8 million working days lost due to work-related illness and workplace injury
  • £18.8 billion estimated cost of injuries and ill health from current working conditions (2019/20)

Overview 2018/2019 (for comparison)

  • 147 Workers killed at work in 2018/19
  • 581,000 working people sustained an injury at work, according to the Labour Force Survey
  • 69,208 injuries to employees reported under RIDDOR
  • 4.7 million working days lost due to work-related illness and workplace injury
  • £16.2 billion estimated cost of injuries and ill health from current working conditions (2018/19)

As you can see, these HSE accidents at work statistics reveal a concerning number of incidents occurring annually, with thousands of workers sustaining injuries or even losing their lives. These figures are indeed shocking, highlighting the urgent need for greater awareness and improved safety measures. They also serve as a stark reminder of the potential dangers that workers face daily, emphasising the importance of prioritising their safety and well-being.

The Unseen Dimensions

Workplace accidents must be reported because we can take action when we have the awareness. This then leads to being able to build a culture of safety.

But, like all statistics, they will never provide a comprehensive view of workplace accidents. These are the unseen dimensions.


It is reasonable to suspect that many workplace accidents go unreported yearly. This may be due to a lack of awareness among workers about reporting procedures, fear of retaliation, or a workplace culture that discourages reporting. As a result, the HSE statistics may only represent the tip of the iceberg, with the true extent of workplace accidents being much higher. Who knows?

Long-Term Effects

The immediate consequences of workplace accidents are usually evident and documented. However, the long-term effects on a worker’s health and well-being can be long-lasting, potentially leading to chronic conditions or disabilities. Naturally, the longer-term effects on the employee and employer can hide the full impact of workplace accidents.

These long-term effects are probably not captured by the HSE, leaving a gap in our understanding of the full impact of workplace accidents.

Less Stringent Sectors

While we’d like to believe that all sectors care about health and safety, that is often not the case. The HSE statistics may not fully represent the situation in, let’s call them, the informal sector, where safety standards and reporting mechanisms may be less stringent. Workers in these settings may be at a higher risk of accidents, but their experiences may not be reflected in the official statistics. This is naturally concerning. Again, it’s about raising awareness of the benefits of good health and safety hygiene.

The Ripple Effects Of Workplace Accidents

The ripple effects of workplace accidents go beyond immediate medical costs and downtime; they extend to reputational damage, lowered morale, retraining costs, costs to cover absent staff, loss of productivity, costs of long-term health issues, increased insurance premiums, legal and compliance costs, and additional unseen expenses.

It's a long list; I am sure you can add other items.

Unveiling RIDDOR

The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases, and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) is a key player. RIDDOR mandates reporting specific workplace incidents to the HSE, providing a framework for understanding and analysing workplace risks. By adhering to RIDDOR, companies comply with the law and gather crucial data that can be instrumental in preventing future accidents.

But before we get to the reporting systems, what can your organisation do?

It sometimes feels like we at Ligtas are saying the same thing, but that’s because we’ve made it our mission to help create a safer world, which often means repeating our advice. Deep breaths, and here we go.

Comprehensive Education and Training

Education is the foundation of awareness. Organisations ‘should’ invest in comprehensive training programs that educate employees about workplace hazards, safety protocols, and the importance of reporting accidents and near misses. Incorporating information about RIDDOR into these training sessions ensures that employees understand their responsibilities and the procedures for reporting incidents. A course that is worth considering for the team is the NEBOSH National General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety.

Utilising Various Communication Channels

Employers can leverage various communication channels to disseminate information about workplace safety and RIDDOR. This could include newsletters, videos, intranet articles, posters, and safety bulletins. Engage with your marketing team to create and deliver a multi-channel approach that ensures the message reaches a wider audience and caters to different learning preferences.

Engaging Leadership

Leadership plays a critical role in shaping organisational culture. Leaders should actively promote a safety-first mindset and demonstrate their commitment to employee well-being. By openly discussing the importance of RIDDOR and encouraging transparent reporting, leaders can create a supportive environment that prioritises safety. The IOSH Safety for Executives and Directors is a great place to start. And take a look at this case study for ideas of how we can support you.

Collaboration with Health and Safety Bodies

Organisations can collaborate with health and safety regulatory bodies to access resources, training materials, and expert guidance. The HSE has lots of great resources to download. These collaborations can enhance the organisation’s understanding of RIDDOR and its implications, ensuring compliance and promoting best practices in workplace safety.

Promoting a No-Blame Culture

This is a hard one, given human nature, but fostering a no-blame culture is essential in encouraging employees to report accidents and near misses. Employees should feel confident that reporting an incident will not result in punitive measures. Instead, the focus should be on learning from the incident and implementing preventative measures to avoid future occurrences.

Utilising Real-Life Case Studies

Sharing real-life case studies of workplace accidents and the role of RIDDOR in investigating and addressing these incidents can be a powerful awareness-raising tool. These case studies provide tangible examples of the potential consequences of workplace accidents and the importance of reporting and compliance. You only have to look at the HSE prosecutions list to find case studies that will deliver lessons learned.

Leveraging Technology

Technology can play a significant role in raising awareness and streamlining the reporting process. Implementing user-friendly reporting systems and mobile applications can make it easier for employees to report incidents, ensuring timely and accurate submissions in line with RIDDOR requirements.

Community and Industry Engagement

Engaging with the wider community and industry peers can provide additional platforms for raising awareness. Participating in safety forums, workshops, and conferences allows organisations to share knowledge, learn from other’s experiences, and promote the importance of RIDDOR and workplace safety.

What About Contractors?

It would be remiss of us to not discuss contractors. In our article - A Guide to Controlling Contractors in Facilities Management we discuss how many organisations use contractors to increase efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

This in itself presents many challenges when it comes to managing safety.

The legacy of the Associated Octel case in 1990 illuminates the legal and financial implications tied to contractor management, underlining a pressing need for greater safety protocols.

The intricacies of contractor management intensify in facilities management, especially within multi-tenanted buildings. Here, the landlord, often designated as the 'client' by law, may delegate the management of contractor-related tasks to a facilities management company. Despite this delegation, the accountability for any breach of Section 3 of the Act remains with the landlord. However, the facilities management company could also face legal repercussions. This interconnected liability showcases how poor contractor management can escalate risks, inflate costs, and tarnish legal and public standings.

This is yet another hidden complexity when considering the hidden costs of workplace accidents. This means that it is vitally important to have appropriate controls in place. Look at our article, which will take you through the 5 steps of contractor management, and watch the replay of Control Of Contractors For FM Companies.

What else?

Three things come to mind:

  • Adopt a Proactive Stance: Shift from a reactive to a proactive safety culture. Encourage employees to report hazards before they escalate into accidents.
  • Regular Safety Audits: Conduct safety audits and risk assessments to identify potential hazards and ensure health and safety standards compliance.
  • Collaboration with Ligtas. We would say this, wouldn’t we? Our motto is you can keep people safe by ticking boxes. By working with us, we believe we can help you move beyond compliance and keep your workforce safe.

Preventing workplace accidents is a collective endeavor. Partnering with experts like Ligtas can provide your organisation with tailored solutions and training to mitigate risks. We offer various services, including consultancy, training, and support in achieving compliance with health and safety laws.

Where do you want to go today?