UK workers say profits are put before people when it comes to workplace safety

Published 27th Oct 2021 by Emma Sinfield

Over a third of manual workers believe their employer is putting profits over people, with close to one in 10 fearing for their safety every day at work, according to a major new study. A recent online survey, carried out by YouGov on behalf of A-SAFE, revealed that workers felt the need to make premises Covid-safe had compromised other health and safety measures.

  • Major new study finds a third think making workplaces Covid-secure has compromised other elements of health and safety.
  • A quarter do not trust their employer to protect them in the workplace.
  • One in 10 manual workers say they don’t feel safe while at work.

Global safety barrier manufacturer A-SAFE, based in West Yorkshire, commissioned the study as part of a campaign to highlight the risks being taken in some factories, warehouses and distribution centres, and the important safety measures that can be put in place to reduce them.

A total of 2,019 manual and semi-skilled workers, such as machine operators, fitters and drivers, were questioned. Key findings include:

  • 37% believe that profits are put before people in terms of ensuring the right health and safety measures are in place where they work.
  • 33% say the focus on creating Covid-secure environments has led to the neglect of other health and safety measures.
  • 24% do not think their employer is dedicated to keeping them safe and they do not trust them to protect workers.
  • Taken together, this leads to one in 10 (9%) of those surveyed saying they go to work not feeling safe in general.

James Smith, co-owner and director of A-SAFE, said: “Protecting the health and safety of employees is an essential part of a company’s risk management and must be led by its leadership team. When there are failures, the results can be catastrophic – lives can be changed and families devastated in an instant. It is time this hidden cost of going to work is highlighted, and that is what this survey and campaign.

A-SAFE has launched ‘The Hidden Cost of Workplace Safety’ campaign to show these risks and highlight one story in particular – that of Lisa Ramos, a mum-of-one who lost her leg after being hit by a forklift truck. The campaign also offers support and guidance to business decision makers to create a positive and sustainable workplace safety culture.

James adds: “People are at their most vulnerable in industrial workplace environments, where vehicles and pedestrians are working in proximity, and yet more could be done to protect employees at work.”

A-SAFE is now calling for businesses to adhere to PAS 13 in workplaces. Published by the British Standards Institution (BSI), PAS 13 is a guideline for organisations to follow which reduces the risk of collision accidents and ensures protection is fit for purpose.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) welcomes A-SAFE’s work to draw attention to the importance of good health and safety management and the need to follow guidelines in the workplace.

Dr Karen McDonnell,occupational health and safety policy adviser, head of RoSPA Scotland, commented: “The research highlights that during the pandemic, there has been a shift in attitudes towards health and safety – businesses faced pressure to be covid-secure and continue to operate. It also shows the worries, fears and anxieties that many of us face in a working environment.

“The insight this research provides will help businesses and government bodies understand the need to follow clear guidelines for businesses in terms of health and safety. Lisa’s story highlights the human impact that a workplace accident can have on someone and how following clear guidelines, such as PAS 13 from the BSI, can make these accidents avoidable.”

To find information on the ‘The Hidden Cost of Workplace Safety’ campaign and to watch Amputee, visit:

Image: James Smith from A-SAFE.


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