Government called on to put Health, Safety and Wellbeing at the Centre of Economic Growth by the British Safety Council

In anticipation of a UK General Election expected this year, the British Safety Council has published a manifesto containing policies aimed at supporting better productivity and growth, as well as ensuring 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, with sickness and illness at a 10-year high, costing businesses and the economy up to £77.5 billion annually. Poor mental health is also estimated to cost UK taxpayers around £45 billion each year.

Marking 50 years since the landmark Health and Safety at Work Act (1974), the 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’ outlines seven key calls across four policy areas: regulation; wellbeing; technology and the future of work; and skills.

The British Safety Council’s requests to a future UK Government include:

  • A dedicated Ministerial portfolio responsible for wellbeing, which would also hold cross-governmental responsibility for the development and implementation of a National Wellbeing Strategy.
  • Support for companies that invest in new and emerging technologies (including AR, VR, and AI) for the purpose of improving health, safety, and wellbeing standards in the workplace, enabling them to offset up to 5% of annual investment.
  • Health, safety, and wellbeing training mandated by law to be 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 with statutory duties for the regulation and inspection of health and safety.

Peter McGettrick, Chairman of the 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 in 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.”

Mike Robinson, Chief Executive of the British Safety Council, said:

“As part of our Manifesto, we are calling on the next Government to take a truly joined-up approach to health, safety, and wellbeing. That’s why we want to see a new Ministerial Portfolio responsible for wellbeing and a new National Wellbeing Strategy. We believe this would improve and support better health at work, unlock lost productivity, and grow the economy.

“The world of work is changing, and we want companies that invest in new and developing technologies – such as AR, VR, and AI – for the purposes of improving workplace health, safety and wellbeing to be incentivised, as well as health and safety skills and training required by law to be supported by a tax credit.

“We also want to see adequate resources allocated to those responsible for regulating health, safety and wellbeing at work, especially the Health and Safety Executive, which, despite progress in reducing fatalities and injuries at work, has seen nearly 20 per cent of its funding cut since 2010.”

Find out more about the British Safety Council here.