The ongoing issues surrounding the coronavirus pandemic are a timely reminder of the importance of ensuring workplace ill health is managed effectively by employers, says Charlotte O’Kane.
Work-related ill health is a significant issue in the UK. According to Health and Safety Executive (HSE) statistics, 1.4 million workers in the UK suffer from work-related ill health, which results in 23.5 million working days lost each year, and costs the UK £9.8 billion.
Traditionally health and safety enforcement has focused much more on safety and less so on health. While the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 enshrined obligations on employers to ensure the health of their employees and others affected by their work, historically this has been under-enforced when compared with enforcement of obligations relating to safety. However, over recent years the HSE has shown an increased focus on health issues.
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