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RoSPA urges firms not to ignore safety during recession

To mark the start of a European week focusing on the prevention of accidents and ill-health at work, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents is urging employers not to cut corners on health and safety during the coming economic downturn.

This year's European Campaign for Safety and Health at Work, which is marked by an awareness week running from October 20 – 24, is seeking to demystify the risk assessment process.

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.”

Roger 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.”

RoSPA offers a range of products and services to help organisations with their risk assessments. To mark the European Campaign for Safety and Health at Work 2008/09, the safety charity is offering a 10 per cent discount on risk assessment products and resources, including videos and DVDs, ordered before the end of October. Visit www.rospa.com/riskassessment/ to view the products.

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