Good health and safety equals successful business!

Good health and safety equals successful business! A positive approach to health and safety not only helps businesses attract quality employees, but also boosts sales and workforce commitment, according to a new study published this week.

The research by the Institute for Employment Studies and the Work Foundation, on behalf of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), looked into UK business attitudes, intentions and performance and their health and safety strategies.

A telephone based survey of 3,000 UK businesses revealed that health and safety was generally seen as either "important" or "very important" - although smaller firms were less likely to have a positive attitude or regard it as a key strategic area.

When looking at broader business objectives, the study also found that health and safety strategy was associated with creating a "great place to work", as well as innovation, stakeholder value and business growth.

"This could suggest that a commitment to health & safety is strongly aligned to a desire to deliver high levels of job enrichment, to create an environment supportive of creativity and innovation, and to engage with the wider community, including suppliers," said the research report.

'Balanced business'

However, the most interesting results came when the researchers examined actual health and safety expenditure and any association business performance.

A link was found between higher expenditure on health and safety and three key areas - a greater capacity to attract quality employees, higher employee commitment and faster sales growth.

"Taken overall, our performance models, across a wide range of indicators, suggest that a strategic commitment to good health and safety practice does businesses no harm, and a spending commitment is strongly associated with tangible improvements in employee related aspects of the business."

Norwich Union Risk Services training and consultancy manager, John Phillips, said he was not surprised by the research findings.

"It is already clear to me is that organisations with a positive approach to health and safety tend to be successful in other areas," he said.

"It's part of running a balanced business, where employees, customers and operational efficiency are just as important as the bottom-line. Good management is about getting all of these aspects right."

In no cases was spending more on health and safety associated with a worsening of performance. The same was true for the health and safety strategy index developed in the study. Higher strategic index scores were associated with helping businesses to create a workforce whose skills base was above their industry benchmark.

The research report can be downloaded from the HSE website at www.hse.gov.uk/research/rrhtm/rr589.htm.

(01 October 2007)

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