UK: Public Sector Trailing Private Sector in Health and Safety

New research reveals public sector organisations in the UK are falling behind their private counterparts when it comes to health and safety.

The SGS survey included the attitudes of 263 different organisations and 289 individuals across the UK, and found the public sector gave less priority to health and safety, with a smaller amount of attention given to improving systems and adhering to best practice.

There were large gaps in standards between the public and private sector in multiple areas. This considerable disparity is worrying, especially when we consider that work-related injuries cost the UK around £14 billion in 2016. It is also important to note that, at this moment in time, the concept of health and safety refers to physical and mental health, as well as equipment and working conditions. Organisations are under more scrutiny than ever before, and violations are being punished harshly – clearly, it is vital that organisations prioritise the wellbeing of their employees.

Survey respondents were questioned about the monitoring and measurement of health and safety issues, and barriers to effective health and safety risk management. It found that one in two private sector organisations conducted health and safety inspections monthly. However, in contrast, only 27 per cent of public sector organisations carried out inspections on a monthly basis.

Eight out of 10 private sector organisations said that health and safety is a major priority within their risk management framework; however, only 68 per cent of public sector organisations replicated this level of commitment.

Further to this, 47 per cent of private sector organisations have implemented an Occupational Health and Safety Management System which supports their risk management strategy and protects workers. Yet, for public sector organisations, the figure is 36 per cent.

Kate Breslin, Product Manager at SGS, noted that “increasingly, organisations need to consider internal factors such as staff training, alongside external forces such as changes to legislation and the emergence of new technologies in the workplace”. She said the findings showed that it is “more important than ever for organisations within the public sector to follow their private sector counterparts and make the necessary investment in health and safety. Compliance is essential and therefore must be a priority for the public sector and private alike.”

SGS released a graphic outlining the results of the survey, found below. 



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