Many people are somewhat skeptical of the concept of health and safety, viewing it as a ‘kill-joy’ and an unnecessary interference in our day to day lives. How often do we see tabloid stories about a seemingly innocuous activity that has been banned due to ‘health and safety have gone mad’?

However, despite this popular perception, health and safety is a very important issue and, as a business owner, is one that you can’t afford to ignore.

Still not convinced? Here are some key reasons as to why you should send your staff on health and safety awareness courses.

Your legal obligations

First and foremost, as a UK employer, you have a legal obligation to safeguard the health and safety of your employees. As part of this, your employees need to understand the basics of health and safety in the workplace, and you have a legal responsibility to educate your staff in this area.

While you may have overall responsibility for meeting health and safety requirements, you cannot achieve this on your own. It needs to be a team effort, and for this to happen, your employees need to be aware of the rules and regulations. A training course is a great way of ensuring your employees have all the information they need to operate safely in the workplace.

Health and safety training, however, should not just be viewed as a tick box exercise, something you do to satisfy your legal requirements. An awareness of health and safety can bring real benefits to you, your employees and your business.

Protect your employees

The biggest reason to ensure your employees are fully trained on health and safety is, of course, to protect their health and well being.

Each year, more than 3 million people are injured at work, or suffer from illnesses that are caused by or exacerbated by their work. And, tragically, over 200 people are killed in workplace accidents every year. With this in mind, it’s easy to see why preventing accidents and ill health should be a priority for all employers.

By attending a health and safety awareness course, your staff will learn how to protect themselves and each other in the workplace, helping to foster a positive health and safety culture within your organization. This, in turn, should lead to fewer accidents and illnesses, resulting in a healthier, happier workforce.

Protect your business

As well as putting your employees at risk, failure to provide appropriate health and safety training could have serious implications for your business. There are legal ramifications of course, but of equal concern is the potential for significant financial losses.

Around 28 million working days are lost due to work-related illness and injury each year, costing UK industry around £14 billion. Having employees on long-term or frequent sick leave due to inadequate health and safety measures at work will impact negatively on your efficiency, productivity and, ultimately, your bottom line.

Alongside this, you could be leaving yourself open to costly compensation claims should the worst happen and somebody becomes ill or injured at work. While you may have insurance in place, it is unlikely to cover all costs and, if you have failed to take the proper precautions (such as health and safety training), you may find yourself liable for the full amount.

Boost your business

Whilst failing to adequately train your staff can have an adverse effect on your business, the converse is equally true.

By prioritizing health and safety you are demonstrating a focus on staff welfare – this can be a highly beneficial when it comes to staff retention and recruitment.

A dedication to health and safety can also have a positive impact on your business’ reputation. Clients are increasingly asking for evidence that companies can carry out quality work safely and comply with regulations. Having staff that are trained in health and safety will show you in a good light and help give you the edge over your competitors.

Health and safety is a key issue no matter what sector you work in. Ensuring your employees are aware of health and safety regulations can help ensure that your company is responsible, profitable and a great place to work.

Glen Hughes is the director of Zero Harm Training, who provide safety & environmental training courses across the UK and internationally.