Society exerts pressure through three overlapping and interacting spheres of influence: moral, legal and financial.
Morals are the codes of conduct, or rules of behaviour imposed by a society about 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.
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There are two systems of law that influence the management of health and safety.
Criminal Law: 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 (either 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.
Civil Law: 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.
Accidents clearly cost money: (injured people, damaged plant and machinery, wasted product etc.)
As every business and every incident are different the only accurate way of determining costs is to measure them.
HSE Guidance on the real costs of accidents at work indicates that the uninsured costs of an accident may be more than 10 times the insurance premiums.
This is often illustrated via the ‘Accident Cost Iceberg’.