Today is the World Day for Health & Safety at Work

Created by The International Labour Organisation (ILO) in 2003, The World Day for Health & Safety at Work is an international campaign that aims to promote the prevention of occupational accidents and diseases globally, whilst enhancing social dialogue towards a culture of safety and health. Health & Safety continues to improve around the world year on year, and this has drastically changed from when the idea first originated.

The History of Health and Safety

Prior to the Industrial Revolution in 1760, it was common practice to make a living through localised agriculture and making products from home, and health and safety policies, regulations and legislation weren’t really necessary.

With the development of new machinery and mass production factories, people flocked from all over the countryside to cities in the excitement and hope of better opportunities. However, due to the vast number of people looking for work and the need for cheap labour, this quickly led to poor pay, hazardous factory conditions, and an increase in child labour.

Black & White photo of Victorian Factory Workers

It was common practice for children as young as four to be employed, working over 12 hours a day. Due to their size, they were used to squeeze inside the machinery if a malfunction occurred, which often led to the loss of limbs and fatalities. Occupational diseases increased dramatically, as well as disease being rife throughout cities because of rapid urbanisation, a lack of hygiene measures, little knowledge of sanitary care, and no knowledge of what caused or cured them.

Thankfully, conditions this extreme are rare in this day and age, however, there is still a lot of room for improvement, especially in developing countries where vulnerable communities rely on work to survive and are frequently taken advantage of.

Modern-Day Health & Safety

In 1974 the Health and Safety at Work Act was passed and was considered a revolutionary piece of legislation that forms the basis of health and safety legislation across the world today.

Unlike previous acts in the UK, the Health and Safety at Work Act encompassed all industries and employees,  placing responsibility on both the employer and employee to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of individuals across all workplaces, and members of the public who could be affected by work activities.

Having a health and safety policy is a requirement for all businesses in the UK that employ over five people. The policy should set out your general approach and commitment, together with the procedures you have put in place, for managing H&S in your business. If you have a supply chain, it is also best practice to include a section on H&S, detailing compliance to local and international regulations/legislations, programmes for audits, and staff training. 

Influencing the highest level of H&S in your business and throughout your value chain not only protects employees, employers, and members of the public, but it can make a positive impact to societies, subsequently having a positive effect on economic growth. Therefore, it’s no understatement to say that having a well-implemented H&S policy can be a huge benefit for multiple parties.

If you need advice or guidance on Health and Safety and how this applies to your business, get in touch with us at FuturePlus.

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