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Workforce health, safety and wellbeing should be at the heart of economic growth, says British Safety Council

Ahead of a UK General Election expected this year, British Safety Council has published a manifesto containing policies to support better productivity and growth as well as ensure a healthier, safer and happier workforce.

The UK lost an estimated 32.5 million days to work-related ill-health and non-fatal workplace injuries in 2022/2023, and sickness and illness are at a 10-year high, costing businesses and the economy up to £77.5 billion a year. Poor mental health is also estimated to cost UK taxpayers around £45 billion each year.

Fifty years on from the landmark Health and Safety at Work Act (1974), British Safety Council, is calling on all political parties and representatives to “commit to making the next 50 years the safest in our nation’s history”. Its ‘Manifesto on Health, Safety and Wellbeing’ sets out seven key calls across four policy areas: regulation; wellbeing; technology and the future of work; and skills.

British Safety Council’s calls on a future UK Government include:

  • A dedicated Ministerial portfolio responsible for wellbeing, which would also be given cross-governmental responsibility for the development and implementation of a National Wellbeing Strategy.
  • Support for companies that invest in new and developing technologies (including AR, VR, and AI) for the purposes of improving health, safety and wellbeing standards in the workplace, enabling them to offset up to five per cent annual investment.
  • Health, safety and wellbeing training required by law included in a new ‘Skills Tax Credit’ when reforms are made to skills-based education.
  • Adequate funding for the Health and Safety Executive (including the Building Safety Regulator) and for local authorities who hold statutory duties for the regulation and inspection of health and safety.

Peter McGettrick, Chairman of British Safety Council, said: “This year we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the UK’s groundbreaking Health and Safety at Work Act, which put our country at the forefront of ensuring safer workplaces and helped us become a world leader in workplace health and safety. Ahead of the next General Election, we are calling on all political parties, party leaders, and those seeking election to commit to making the next 50 years the safest in our nation’s history.

“This is about putting health, safety, and wellbeing at the heart of economic growth, to ensure the UK remains economically competitive the future. That will require everyone – from policymakers and political leaders to employers and staff – to commit to a future where economic growth and worker wellbeing actively support each other.”

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