Managing employee risks boosts competitiveness

Northern Ireland companies could strengthen their competitiveness by using business improvement techniques to cut the estimated £240 million annual bill from work related injury and ill health attributable to ‘human factors’.

According to Lawson McDonald, Industrial Development Board Deputy Chief Executive, who was speaking at a joint IDB and Health & Safety Executive Northern Ireland workshop on the ‘Business Benefits from Managing the Human Aspects of Risk’ for over 34 senior managers from 24 local companies.

Speaking at the event at the Hilton Hotel in Templepatrick, Mr McDonald said local companies could manage risks more effectively by benchmarking their health and safety procedures against other comparable businesses and learn how to reduce work-related injury and ill health and thereby reduce operating costs.

He added: “The ‘hidden’ cost of injury and ill health can be a significant factor for local companies and many of these, such as production delays, lost orders and replacement staff costs, are not recoverable through liability insurance and, therefore, impact on overall performance.

“While Northern Ireland companies are conscious of the need to protect employees by effective health and safety systems in production and other processes, studies show that up to 80 per cent of workplace accidents and incidents result from human factors.

“Knowledge gained through the application of benchmarking will help companies recognise that good health and safety practice will save, rather than cost money, and will contribute positively to their bottom line by improving their overall ability to compete more effectively for business.”

The workshop was led by Professor Peter McKie, PHM Associates with contributions from Dr Norman Byrom, HSE (GB), and insurance expert Bernard Steel of Marsh (UK) insurance brokers.

The initiative followed a request from the Belfast Benchmarking Club, an organisation of major companies in the greater Belfast area that is being assisted by IDB’s Business Excellence Division, to increase awareness of business improvement techniques among local companies. (MB)

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