A recent report has highlighted the fact that UK businesses who ignore important health and safety measures are being prosecuted as a result of internal tip-offs. This number is on the rise and looks to be spiralling ever upwards due to the HSE suggesting they may increase the number of tip-off based inspections they conduct. Pinsent Masons, a well-known law firm, uncovered this growing trend and hopefully this will serve as a warning to those firms who are still ignoring obvious dangers to their workforce.
These figures are proof that employees have had enough of putting themselves at risk just because their bosses are either too busy or simply don’t care enough about their safety. As more insiders are prepared to become whistle blowers, surely the message must start getting through to these careless and irresponsible employers?
The HSE have decided that the buck must stop with the company directors and any sign of cost-cutting will result in a very stiff penalty indeed. The UK public have also played their part in letting the HSE know about firms who are sailing rather too close to the wind with regards to their health and safety measures. These inspections numbered 2,429 in 2011/12, the following year saw a substantial rise to 3475, and during the last year, 4,097 inspections were carried out.
Now that employers are starting to realise that their own workforce have no qualms about letting the HSE know about any potential hazards in the workplace, isn’t it time for these employers to step up to the plate and start taking the safety of their employees seriously at last? The lifeblood of UK industry surely deserves the right to work in as safe conditions as possible, so now is the time to enforce these human rights. As mentioned previously, the worse culprit regarding failing to put health and safety measures in place must be cost cutting exercises.
So it seems rather apt that the very shortcut that was intended to save money will ultimately lead to a fine that will add to any financial worried previously held. Careless employers will now have to look twice when an unannounced visitor turns up at their factory or office building. It should be a matter of course that all UK bosses do their utmost to follow the HSE best practices to the letter, but this simply has never been the case.
Time for change
Nobody enjoys the label of whistle blower, but surely it is worth that risk if the ends justify the means. Any worker worth his salt should think about his or her own safety and the health of their colleagues before worrying about being singled out for exposing poor practice in the workplace. If you have reason to believe that your own safety is being disregarded simply to make a budget more possible, do not hesitate to do the right thing. Speak to your local HSE sooner rather than later because yours and your colleague’s lives are worth far more than a few zeroes on a financial spreadsheet. Investing in high quality health and safety courses for your workers is absolutely vital to your business and employees.