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IOSH calls for focus on Scottish workplace accident prevention

We are pleased to share the following story from the website of the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH).

Proposed improvements to protections for people injured at work in Scotland must be part of an overall system which priorities the prevention of accidents happening in the first place, according to the global body for health and safety professionals.

The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) believes the Scottish Employment Injuries Advisory Council Bill is a “positive step forward”, saying it has potential to support injured workers financially and help them return to their jobs.

However, IOSH is calling for more proactive measures to go alongside it which seek to address the causes of workplace accidents and prevent them from happening.

Responding to a consultation on the proposals, IOSH also says it wants to see action to prevent work-related ill health and that it’s crucial to ensure the system is set up to respond to new ways of working, including addressing new technologies in the workplace and the hazards they can cause.

The Bill was introduced in the Scottish Parliament in June this year, and the call for views closed last month.

In its response, IOSH said it is “in complete support” of the plans for creating an independent and expert scientific body that facilitates meaningful engagement in evidence-based policymaking. It added that “the proposed Scottish Employment Injuries Advisory Council Bill, if effectively implemented, can not only offer an opportunity to ameliorate the financial consequences for the victims of accidents or diseases at work but ultimately help people to stay in work when faced with processes associated to ill-health and work-related injuries.

It added: “This is therefore a positive step forward. However, it must be embedded into a more overarching governmental system that assures a provision of adequate health and social measures and promotes prevention of work-related harm, as well as one that assists injured workers back into work with evidence-based measures to prevent ill-health related job loss and sickness absence and presenteeism.

“We would welcome a more proactive role in helping and supporting occupational injury and disease victims to return to work and in improving the job design and work environment to prevent the recurrence of injuries, ill-health, and diseases.

“Bearing in mind that the health of workers constitutes a crucial factor for the sustainability of social security schemes, devoting more resources to prevention initiatives will ultimately lead to a decrease in occupational accidents, ill health and diseases.”

According to estimates, more than 40,000 people are injured in workplace accidents in Scotland ever year. While these range in severit, many of the injured are left unable to work either temporarily or permanently.

IOSH is also keen to see the proposed new injuries advisory council reflect the introduction of new technologies into workplaces, and the risks these can create.

It added: “Despite new technologies contributing to reducing work-related injuries and considering that the so-called ‘green economy’ will deprioritise ‘high-risk’ industries such as mining, it is expected that new hazards and risks will emerge, as will opportunities. This will require robust academic advice, stronger scientific evidence base and occupational safety, and health capacity to advise both in the workplace and at relevant decision-making meetings.”