Key Health and Safety Trends in 2024

Key Health and Safety Trends 2024

Explore the key top 5 health and safety trends in 2024

In this blog we explore the top 5 Health and Safety Trends in 2024 that demand attention. We also unravel the dynamic landscape of safety practices shaping the present and future. Join us as we navigate the intricacies of a safer and healthier future.

1. Establishing New Connections with Regulatory Authorities

Almost six years post-Grenfell, the Building Safety Act is poised to bring a substantial overhaul to health and safety practices in facilities. Despite the delayed implementation of the second staircase rule for buildings surpassing 18 metres, several sections of the Act are already in effect. The Building Safety Regulator (BSR) has assumed authority for all high-rise buildings, and a Mandatory Occurrence Reporting System is now mandatory for each higher-risk building, enabling the BSR to capture pertinent risks.

The enforcement policy statement from the BSR outlines its approach to handling breaches, incorporating measures like verbal warnings, and even recommending prosecutions for severe violations. Within the next three years, the BSR aims to assess approximately half of higher-risk buildings. For any building or facilities manager, especially those overseeing higher-risk buildings, establishing a positive relationship with the Building Safety Regulator is strategically imperative.

2. The RAAC problem is still ongoing

Like asbestos, Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) may exist in an undisclosed number of buildings. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has indicated that RAAC is ‘beyond its lifespan’ and could ‘collapse with little or no notice’.

Should you identify a risk or suspect the presence of RAAC, it is advisable to involve a building surveyor or structural engineer to thoroughly assess the situation. Conduct a risk assessment if RAAC is suspected, and promptly get in touch with the HSE and local authorities. If RAAC is confirmed, it might be necessary to reinforce, remove, and replace it.

3. Can Inadequate Funding for the HSE Affect Workplace Health and Safety?

With a decline in funding and inadequate staffing levels at the HSE, a growing number of employers are likely to escape penalties following workplace fatalities. The Prospect Union reveals that the count of ‘mandatory investigations’, intended to occur after a fatality or severe injury, abandoned or unexecuted, has surged to 389 in the past year. This is a significant increase from just two such investigations dropped less than five years ago.

HSE’s current funding is 43% lower than in 2010, and the staff strength, which was 4,200 less than two decades ago, has dwindled to around 2,400 in 2022.

In the preceding year, approximately half of the 800 incidents triggering a mandatory investigation were abandoned due to already implemented reasonable precautions. Conversely, the other half were dropped due to insufficient resources.

The dearth of resources for investigating workplace fatalities adds genuine anguish to families already grappling with the tragic loss of a loved one.

4. Psychological Safety is trending

Psychological safety entails creating an environment where employees feel secure and won’t face punishment or humiliation when expressing their ideas, questions, concerns, or admitting mistakes. In a workplace that prioritises psychological safety, individuals should not experience embarrassment, rejection, or reprisals for sharing thoughts, seeking feedback, or taking calculated risks.

Workplaces benefit significantly when employees feel empowered to pose bold questions and voice concerns.

For individuals from groups often subjected to workplace discrimination, achieving this freedom to speak up can be particularly challenging. Without a steadfast commitment to actualising this, a state of psychological safety remains elusive.

In environments with low psychological safety, where people hesitate to raise concerns, ineffective initiatives may still progress. The organisation becomes less adept at averting failures, and there is a risk of talent disengagement. When employees aren’t wholeheartedly dedicated to collective organisational success, ideas go untested, solutions lack scrutiny, and the enterprise misses the chance to harness the diverse contributions of its entire talent pool.

5. Occupational Health Support: Essential, Not Just Nice-to-Have

While a general occupational health assessment is not mandated by law, employers bear a legal obligation to safeguard the health, safety, and welfare of their workforce, ensure a secure working environment, and manage any risks to health and safety. Nevertheless, the necessity for an occupational health service becomes obligatory only when employees operate in specific hazardous conditions.

Despite the absence of a legal mandate, the pivotal role of occupational health professionals in supporting employees cannot be overstated. These professionals can conduct a risk assessment to identify potential hazards and recommend appropriate controls. Additionally, they can offer health surveillance for individuals exposed to health risks due to their job. Support for employees with health conditions includes making reasonable adjustments, providing education, and training, and implementing early interventions to prevent the exacerbation of problems.

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