The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) is urging ­companies to reap not only the health and wellbeing benefits, but also the financial bonuses good health and safety brings, after a Manchester-based company’s workplace injury and illness reduction ­strategy saved it hundreds of thousands of pounds

IOSH has praised Manchester-based company CHEP, which clawed back around £250,000, as a prime example of the positive impact a good policy can have in reducing work-related injury and ill-health.

CHEP a pallet and container pooling solution provider employing 1,500 people in the UK and Ireland – focuses on improving supply chain efficiencies. Its improved strategy not only saved the company money, but crucially, it also reduced its incidents of injury and ill-health over a six-year period from 30, to one a year. This also changed the culture of the company, improving employees’ awareness and hazard reporting, while cutting absenteeism from seven per cent, to two.

Manchester and North West districts branch chairman Deborah Banton says: “British businesses that don’t take good health and safety seriously are missing a trick. Potentially, they are losing out on hundreds of thousands of pounds just because they haven’t got the right health and safety strategies in place.

“CHEP is an example of an organisation that has improved its competitive edge through reducing employee injury and ill-health. This culture change has solved avoidable problems, making a saving that for other businesses could be the difference between survival and failure.

“So many other companies have also managed the same and we want to get the message through to UK business that health and safety is a driver for growth – a key factor coming out of a severe recession.”

CHEP health and safety manager Hugh Kempton, together with his colleague Peter Rushforth – safety and risk manager, Europe – kickstarted ‘The Zero Harm Journey’ initiative. Before the project’s outset six years ago, lost-time incidents of injury and ill-health had hit 30-a-year, while near-miss accident reporting wasn’t even a feature of their risk management.

Kempton says: “We started by focusing on statistics to do with lost-time injuries – challenging the causes of them, looking at the way we carried out investigations, and finding ways to stop repeat occurrences. After this, things really started to improve, beginning a huge change in the business.

“Next we turned to near-miss reporting, which was at zero. This wasn’t a good thing at all because we wanted our employees to be more risk savvy and able to spot potential hazards. Now they are in their thousands because of the time and effort we have spent retraining all our employees in the importance of near miss reporting, focusing on behaviour, hazard spotting and machinery. In short, people now know what they’re looking for and morale has improved because they’re seeing the changes in action.

“We’ve got great buy-in from the top level to the shop floor, which has changed the culture completely, improving staff retention, motivation, productivity and quality, saving approximately £250,000.”

In its campaign, Life Savings, IOSH wants to set the record straight on occupational safety and health. Rather than a burden on business, good, proportionate health and safety is being used by forward-thinking CEOs and managing directors as a driver for growth.

IOSH unearthed many other examples of employers saving millions of pounds through the introduction of occupational safety and health programmes. Now, the chartered body is also calling on the Government to showcase their good practice to demonstrate how managing health and safety can dramatically cut costs.