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Health and safety investment can unlock significant returns

Date posted
13 June 2024
Carly Hughes
Estimated reading time
3 minute read

Continuing our series of blogs in the run-up to the General Election, health and safety consultant Carly Hughes CMIOSH looks at some of the key areas she believes the next Government needs to invest in.

I watched with interest over the past few days as the political parties unveiled their manifestos, signalling the policies they want to focus on should they win the General Election.

There weren’t really many surprises. After all, many of these policies had been drip-fed out in the media in the days leading up to the launches and the key areas around the economy and NHS are covered.

IOSH, of course, launched its own manifesto – Safer, healthier, happier – a couple of weeks ago, with several key calls to action. One which really struck a chord with me was around the need to ensure inclusive workforces and support future generations of workers with relevant skills, especially those relating to occupational safety and health (OSH).

The future of work is shrouded in uncertainty. The development of new technologies, including artificial intelligence and issues like climate change, could really threaten the health and safety of workers.

With that in mind, I believe the next Government needs to invest in education which ensures there is a pipeline of OSH professionals moving forward. We can all play a role in making the profession more appealing for young people, but I really hope the Government can provide pathways like apprenticeships, degrees and opportunities to learn on the job, which means we have professionals who can prevent harm in the future.

Mental health

Another issue which we need to continue to tackle now and in the future is that of poor mental health. This has been a growing issue for many years now, with many factors contributing to it, and we have to do all we can to tackle it, with a particular focus on prevention.

Again, as OSH professionals, we play a key role in supporting businesses, but I’d like to say the Government step up in this area and make it a real priority. They should consider what kinds of funding and support for research which tackles risks that can cause mental health problems head on can be provided.

And it isn’t just in poor mental health where more research could be valuable. We need to look at high-risk work and lone working, for example. How can we mitigate against the risks here and prevent harm?

Getting all of this right can help to make businesses more sustainable. As we’ve seen through IOSH’s Catch the Wave campaign, sustainability isn’t just about being environmentally friendly, it’s about looking after your people. We need to focus on making businesses better at being sustainable.

Why then should the next Government care about these? Focusing on these can really help tackle some of the key issues which are being talked about in the run-up to the General Election.

Addressing these key OSH risks and making work safer and healthier can boost the economy through reductions in workplace accidents and work-related ill health and the absences that these cause. And a knock-on effect of this is tackling the NHS waiting lists, as fewer people will be seeking treatment.

Learn more about our five clear calls to action for the next Government – and why they’re needed for a safer, healthier and happier future.

Last updated: 28 June 2024

Carly Hughes

Job role
Health and safety consultant


  • Strategy and influence


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  • The wait is over, it’s time to get to work
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  • Next UK Government cannot ignore emerging risks