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Industry urged to maintain safety investment despite recession

03 November 2008

As we head into the inevitable recession that has been looming for months, the hazardous area sector must insist on maintaining investment levels and not to cut corners on health and safety during the coming economic downturn. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents is urging UK employers not to turn a blind eye on safety spending and to treat the investment as an essential economic ingredient.

Safety should not be ignored during recession
Safety should not be ignored during recession

Roger Bibbings, RoSPA Occupational Safety Adviser, said: "Given the current financial climate, there is a danger that occupational health and safety could be seen as a problem largely solved - a 'nice-to-have' rather than a really essential social and economic ingredient. There could be a temptation to cut corners, reduce standards or delay introducing essential protective measures.

"But we must avoid seeing an increase in the number of health and safety casualties as part of the price to be paid by workers and members of the public for the recession. In addition to the legal and moral reasons for preventing accidents and ill-health, employers also need to recognise the strong business case, which exists even when times are tough.

"Risk assessments are a case in point. While 'suitable and sufficient' risk assessments are a legal requirement, they do not have to mean an overload of red tape and, properly undertaken, they should help businesses to direct scarce resources towards priority issues."

Bibbings continued: "But a more compelling argument for keeping faith with health and safety in a recession is that when there are no longer opportunities to improve the bottom line by increasing turnover, controlling loss becomes even more important. And recession is coming at a time when penalties for non-compliance are being increased substantially and third parties such as clients are continuing to demand higher standards.

"In an increasingly competitive environment, the ability to demonstrate effective health and safety management will be all the more important in winning future business."

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