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Part 1:

Introducing working safely

Part 1: Introducing working safely

Contents
What is meant by health and safety? ....................................................3
How do Accidents Happen? ....................................................................3
Accident Theory ...................................................................................4
Why is it important to work safely? ..........................................................5
Moral ....................................................................................................5
Legal ....................................................................................................7
Employers Responsibilities................................................................7
Workers Responsibilities ...................................................................8
Financial ..............................................................................................8
Employers Liability Insurance Claims .............................................. 10

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What is meant by health and safety?


Health and safety needs to be managed to protect employees, and others, from potentially
harmful effects of work.
Health: was defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO), in 1948 as:
a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of
disease or infirmity.
Safety: may be considered to be the state of being safe, i.e. free from the unacceptable risk
of injury, danger, or loss.

How do Accidents Happen?


Definitions
Accident: an undesired event
that results in injury, ill health, or
property damage.
Near miss: an undesired event
that had the potential to cause
injury, ill health or property
damage, but did not.

Figure 1: Accidents and Near Misses

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Accident Theory
Domino theories of accident causation suggest that accidents result from a chain of
sequential events like a line of dominoes falling over. When one of the dominoes falls, it
triggers the next one, and the next, eventually resulting in an accident and injury or other
loss.

Loss

iden
t
Acc

ec
tc
au
se
s
Dir

Un
de
rly
ing

s
se
u
ca
t
oo

ca
us
es

Accident prevention strategies involve removing one of the dominoes from the chain to
prevent the sequence progressing to the accident.

Figure 2: Domino Theory


A
Root causes:
Generally
management,
planning or
organisational
failings e.g.
failure to
identify
training needs
and assess
competence,

B
Underlying causes
Unsafe acts and
unsafe conditions.
(the guard
removed,
the ventilation
switched off etc.)

C
Direct (or
immediate)
causes: the agent
of injury or ill health
(the blade, the
substance, the dust
etc). There may be
several immediate
causes identified in
any one adverse
event

D
Accident:
an undesired event
that results in injury,
ill health, or
property damage

E
Loss:
e.g. injury,
illness or
property
damage

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Why is it important to work safely?


Society exerts pressure through three overlapping and interacting spheres of influence, as
shown in Figure 3.

Moral
What is
right or wrong?

Legal
Prevention
Punishment
Compensation

Financial
Insured and
uninsured costs

Figure 3: Moral, Legal and Financial Drivers

Moral
Morals are the codes of conduct, or rules of behaviour imposed by a society regarding what
is right and wrong.
For people to be killed, or seriously injured, or to suffer illness as a consequence of work is
clearly wrong.
Although, in the UK there are generally good standards of workplace health and safety a lot
of harm is still caused each year.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) publishes annual statistics of reported cases of
workplace injury and illness. As can be seen the numbers of cases of occupational illness is
significantly higher than the numbers of injuries.
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Typical numbers of reported accidents are shown in table 1.
Injury Type

Typical numbers each


year

Fatal injuries (all workers)

245

Notified major injuries (e.g. broken arm or leg)

29 000

Reported over 3 day injury (unable to do normal work for


more than 3 days)
Table 1: Typical numbers of injuries reported annually

110 000

Data on occupational ill-health is compiled from a number of sources including self-reports,


medical reporting systems and the industrial injury disability benefit scheme. Typical
numbers of cases of ill health each year are shown in table 2.
Type of ill health

Typical numbers of
cases over recent years

Musculoskeletal disorders

540 000

Stress, depression and anxiety

420 000

Breathing or lung problems

38 000

Infectious diseases
37 000
Table 2: Typical numbers of cases of occupational ill-health reported annually

Table 3 shows numbers of workplace deaths attributable to occupational cancers. The total
is more than 30x that for fatal injuries.
Causes of death

Estimate of deaths
each year

Occupational cancers (general)

8 000

Asbestos related cancers


4 000
Table 3: Typical numbers annual deaths attributed to occupational cancers

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Legal
There are two systems of law that influence the management of health and safety.
The criminal law establishes a set of rules for acceptable behaviour. In the workplace the
main duties are covered by the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Management of
Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.
If the necessary standards are not met the enforcement agencies (either the HSE, the Office
of Rail Regulation ORR, or the local authority environmental health department, depending
on the nature of the work) may take action to secure improvements and / or punish offenders
for breaking the rules.
The civil law allows an injured person to sue a third party for compensation for their injury or
loss if the injury was caused through the third partys negligence.
Employers Responsibilities
All employers have specific legal duties to look after the health and safety of their employees
and others affected by their work so far as is reasonably practicable - under the Health and
Safety at Work Act 1974 and associated regulations, including provision of:

A safe place of work with safe access and egress;

A healthy working environment;

Safe work equipment;

Safe systems of work;

Suitable levels of information, instruction, training and supervision; and

Adequate welfare provisions.

Reasonably practicable
Reasonably practicable requires the degree of risk (likelihood x severity) of a particular
activity or environment to be balanced against the costs (time, trouble and physical difficulty)
of taking measures to avoid or control the risk.
The greater the risk, the more likely it is that it will be reasonable to go to very substantial
expense, trouble and invention to reduce it.
If the consequences and the extent of a risk are small, the same substantial expense would
be considered disproportionate to the risk and it would be unreasonable to have to incur
them to address a small risk.

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The size and financial position of the employer are not taken into account in consideration of
what is reasonably practicable
Workers Responsibilities
Employees also have legal duties under the same legislation, including:

Taking reasonable care of their own health and safety and the safety of others who may
be affected by their work;

Properly using and not interfering with anything provided to protect health and safety

Cooperating with management on health and safety matters; and

Reporting any health and safety concerns to a responsible person.

Financial
Accidents clearly cost money as a consequence of injured people, damaged plant and
machinery and wasted product.
The HSE estimates that occupational injuries and illnesses cost the UK in the region of 20
to 30 billion pounds each year if the total costs to individuals, employers and society are
considered.
The costs of highly visible accidents involving large scale loss of life or major property
damage as a result of fire and explosion are often determined by official inquiries.

The BP Texas City fire and explosion in 2005 cost over $21million in fines, $2billion in
civil claims, and $1billion in reinstating the site.

The Buncefield oil refinery fire in 2005 is believed to be the most expensive accident in
UK history with a total cost of over 1billion, including 9.5 million in fines.

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HSE Guidance from 2002 Reduce Risks Cut
Costs (INDG355) identified three methods for
quickly and crudely estimating uninsured costs of
accidents.
(1)

the uninsured costs of an accident are


approximately 10x the insurance premiums
paid.

(2)

Uninsured losses from accidents in smaller


firms add up to 315 per employee per year

(3)

The average uninsured cost of an accident


causing absence from work is
approximately 2100

HSE Guidance on the real costs of accidents at work indicates that the uninsured costs of an
accident may be more than 10x the insurance premiums paid. Figure 4 shows examples of
accident costs that would not be covered by employers liability insurance.

Injury, ill-health and damage

1
10

Lost time
Extra wages / overtime
Sick pay
Production delays

Fines
Loss of contracts
Legal costs

Insured costs
Uninsured costs
Damage to product, plant,
buildings, tools and
equipment

Clearing the site


Investigation time
Excess on insurance
claims

Loss of business reputation

Figure 4: Accident Cost Iceberg - Insured and Uninsured Costs

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Employers Liability Insurance Claims
The number of civil claims for compensation against employers as a result of accidents fell
steadily in the early twenty first century and the total cost of compensation cases in Britain
has remained, in real terms, static since 1989.
More than 850,000 people are injured or made ill as a result of their job each year. The
Association of British Insurers (ABI) put the numbers who gain compensation from their
employer at around 60,000 a year.

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