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June 5, 2024

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IOSH urges next Government to focus on protecting workers

Nine in 10 health and safety professionals believe the next Government should prioritise improving occupational health services to cut the number of people being made ill by work, according to a new survey.

The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has revealed the findings of a survey of its members as it launches its manifesto for the upcoming UK General Election.

In the manifesto, called Safer, healthier, happier, IOSH says whichever party forms the new Government must have a focus on protecting people at work if it is to rebuild the economy and reduce NHS waiting lists.

“We know that poor health and safety harms people, communities, businesses, our NHS and the economy,” said Ruth Wilkinson, IOSH’s Head of Policy and Public Affairs. “The most recent figures from the Health and Safety Executive showed that workplace injury and new cases of work-related ill-health, including the growing issue of mental health problems, cost Britain £20.7 billion.

“And more people being injured or made ill by work means more people seeking treatment, which adds additional pressure onto the NHS. This is pressure that can be avoided by good workplace health and safety.”

To make work safer, healthier and happier, IOSH makes five key calls to action for the new Government in its manifesto. These are:

  • protect workers’ rights to safe, healthy, decent work by endorsing and fully implementing health and safety-related international conventions and ensuring this covers all workers regardless of their employment status;
  • strengthen and expand the UK’s world-leading system that prevents harm at work through increasing Health and Safety Executive funding and investing in strong occupational health systems;
  • support businesses to tackle new and emerging workplace hazards by being proactive on laws around new technologies and ensuring non-permanent workers have rights to good working conditions, a minimum wage, working time protection and access to collective bargaining;
  • promote a diverse, inclusive, skilled and motivated workforce by mainstreaming diversity into health and safety legislation, national policies and strategies and equipping workers with health and safety awareness;
  • and build a more robust, sustainable economy through reviewing and where necessary updating laws and regulations relating to changing health and safety risks and putting people at the heart of the sustainability agenda.

Ruth added: “By taking these actions, the Government will go some way to reducing the number of accidents in workplaces and the number of cases of ill health caused by work.

“They are investments into the future of our workers, preventing people from being harmed by work, which will help cut the number of people seeking NHS treatment and support the economy.”

As part of developing its manifesto, IOSH surveyed its members on what they believe the priorities should be for the next Government. More than 250 responded, with 85 per cent saying there should be better protections for non-permanent staff including ‘gig’ workers.

To read IOSH’s full manifesto, click here.

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