Results of the annual Absence and Workplace Health survey published in May revealed a staggering 190 million days were lost to absence last year and of these it is considered that 30 million are `bogus`.
The overall rate of sick days taken per employee is at its lowest in the 23 year history that the survey has been run. However the survey did identify that although many organisations have been successful in bringing down levels of absence the gap between best and worst has widened.
Overall it is calculated that sickness cost business £17 billion in the last year. The timing of this coincides with a campaign from IOSH aimed at offering resources to help businesses save cash, keep their workforce safe and healthy and stay on the right side of the law. IOSH has provided a number of case studies where businesses have saved millions and it believes that there are billions more to be saved by businesses across the UK.
We certainly feel that many businesses through a change of focus could easily improve the working environment for their workforce. A clear example of this is how many businesses approach the task of undertaking DSE workstation assessments and training; many it appears just want the tick in the box and therefore look at lowest price to achieve this. The problem is that surveys have found that high proportions of DSE workers report aches, pains or eye discomfort. Many of these conditions do not indicate any serious ill health, but it makes sense to avoid them as far as possible and to prevent the conditions becoming serious long-term health issues.
If a business does not consider the long-term health implications and go for the tick in the box then later down the line it is likely to experience time lost and maybe compensation claims. Added to this many tick in the box approaches often identify expensive equipment changes that may not be the real answer to the issue. Should the outcome of most assessments really result in the purchase of a new chair?
We don`t think so as the key is education of employees to understand the risks of not setting up their own workstation correctly. Of course at times changes of equipment and furniture are relevant particularly when the person has already developed a health problem associated to DSE working.
It seems obvious to us that creating a proactive safe and healthy workplace must have a positive impact on both worker morale and help to reduce sickness absence. Ultimately putting the right resources in before it goes wrong will nearly always cost far less than having to put it right after the health problem has been recognised.