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RR403 - Perceptions of the cost implications of health and safety failures

This report presents findings of research undertaken within organisations of varying size and sector to explore perceptions of costs incurred due to health and safety failures. Preliminary focus groups and interviews were conducted to gain insight into the issues of interest, followed by 283 interviews conducted with managers, health and safety personnel and workers’ representatives within 129 organisations. Approximately 25% of organisations had attempted to measure accident costs, none had systematically quantified work-related illness costs, and most participants were unaware of how much health and safety failures were costing their business. Concern for the cost of health and safety failures tended to relate to general sickness absence, employers’ liability claims and premiums. Accident costs per se were not perceived as a primary motivator for health and safety. The third phase involved organisations collecting real time records of accident/incident and work-related illness cost data. Forty individual case studies illustrating the immediate costs incurred by the organisations are presented. Follow-up interviews indicated that participation in phase 3 was instrumental in changing perceptions and behaviour with regard to incident costing within some of the organisations. The findings are discussed in light of implications for future health and safety information provision and related research.

This report and the work it describes were funded by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Its contents, including any opinions and/or conclusions expressed, are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect HSE policy.

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Updated 2009-05-05