Society exerts pressure on organisations to manage health and safety through three overlapping spheres of influence: moral, legal and financial.
Morals are the codes of conduct or rules of behaviour imposed by society regarding what is right and wrong. For people to be killed, or seriously injured, or to suffer illness because 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.
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 (e.g., the HSE, the Office of Rail and Road – 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 party’s negligence.
In the UK employers’ liability insurance provides cover for employers for claims against them by their employees for injury or disease sustained in the course of their employment.
Accidents clearly cost money because 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.
HSE Guidance identifies three methods for quickly and crudely estimating uninsured costs of accidents.