The latest statistics produced by the Health and Safety Executive on fatal accidents in the workplace show that 137 people died at work in the 12 months up to March of this year.
This does not include members of the public who also died as a result of work-related accidents, the number of which stands at 92. Taking these two figures together and considering the 541 (2015 figures) people who also died whilst driving at or connected with work, the figure is a troubling 770 deaths.
Having spent my professional life dealing with the aftermath of fatal accidents for organisations involved in the death of an employee or a third party, I cannot overestimate the impact such an event has on an organisation.
Studies conducted show that, for every pound which an organisation ultimately pays in terms of a fine arising from a prosecution, there are unseen indirect costs arising from factors such as increasing insurance premiums, legal expenses, welfare costs, lost productivity and HR issues: the list goes on. These unseen costs outweigh the actual fine many times over.
In addition to this, the tremendous amount of time that needs to be devoted by senior management within the business to deal effectively with the investigations by, for example, coroners, police or the local authority, together with managing any civil claims, quite apart from internal issues, is all-consuming. Especially when you are trying to run your business simultaneously.
The much-hackneyed warnings of health and safety lawyers about having good H&S systems are worth listening to.
However, with that advice comes another important step that organisations need to take if an accident occurs – correctly resource the issue internally, obtain specialist advice, speak to your insurers, speak to your lawyers and ensure that you have a team ready, both internally and externally, to be able to deal with the aftermath of a workplace fatality, which will take years not weeks or months to resolve. Trust me!