Workplace health and safety should never be viewed as ‘discretionary’ spend, but you might think that, during a recession, spending on safety features like guardrails and man anchors might come under some pressure.
However, findings from Spain – where employment levels have been severely affected by the recent economic turbulence – suggest quite the opposite effect.
A team from the University of Burgos looked at the rates and severity of occupational accidents throughout the 2000s, as far as 2009, when the economic crisis had already begun.
Their conclusions may be surprising to some, as they found that the turbulent financial cycle “has provoked a sharp fall in both the number of accidents, and the probability of having one”.
They attribute this to the possible ‘natural selection’ that may have occurred as, with employment levels falling, some of the country’s less experienced workers were the first to lose their jobs.
While this is something of a harsh reality, it serves as a reminder that, with the right equipment and a commitment to best practice, real improvements can be seen in safety figures.
And with the UK economy seemingly in a period of stable growth once again, it could be the right time to consider investing more in precautions like guardrails and man anchors, to keep safety at the forefront as activity in all sectors begins to grow once more.