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The wait is over, it’s time to get to work

Date posted
03 June 2024
Kelly Nicoll CFIOSH
Estimated reading time
4 minute read

In the first of a series of blogs from OSH professionals in the build-up to the UK General Election, IOSH President-Elect Kelly Nicoll looks at what she believes the next Government could do to enhance workplace health, safety and wellbeing.

So now we know.

After so much guessing around when the General Election will be, we know it’s going to be on 04 July. The campaign trail is already in full swing for the main political parties as they set out their policies that they hope will sway voters.

What about OSH?

Predictably, there isn’t any talk about it as other issues occupy the minds of the political parties and the media.

But once the dust has settled in a few weeks’ time, once the new Government is in place, we really need to talk about occupational safety and health (OSH). Because if the Government is serious about boosting the economy and cutting NHS waiting lists, then safety and health at work can play a big part.

IOSH has today (03 June 2024) launched its manifesto, Safer, healthier, happier, in which it makes a series of calls to action for the successful party. One of them is to strengthen and expand the UK’s world-leading system that prevents harm at work.

Among the ways it can follow through on this is by having a real focus on mental health. A huge amount of work is needed in this area, not just to support people who are struggling with their mental health but to prevent problems in the first place. We need to be looking at putting initiatives in place which are aimed at prevention and early intervention. There are far too many instances of people not getting the support they require until it’s too late.

But prevention-first doesn’t just relate to mental health; it’s relevant to all areas of OSH. We need a real focus on preventing workplace injuries and preventing work-related ill health. As the IOSH manifesto points out, this can really support with rebuilding the economy as fewer accidents and less ill health caused by work means fewer people leave a workplace that’s characterised by better motivated workers and higher productivity.

One measure which can be introduced is an increase in Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). There have been recent accusations about a “sick note culture” among the UK workforce but I’d argue the opposite is true, that far too many people are working when they’re unfit to do so because they can’t afford not to.

The focus here needs to include everyone. It shouldn’t be the case that strong health and safety standards benefit only some workers. It doesn’t matter whether people are full-time employed or on zero-hour contracts, working 40 hours a week or just one; they all deserve protection and have a right to go home without being harmed.

We’re fast approaching the 50th anniversary of the implementation of the UK’s Health and Safety at Work Act. The Act made work markedly safer in Britain and its influence has spread to other nations worldwide. This anniversary, as well as the Election, brings with it a chance to review legislation and ensure it’s up to scratch for the very new world of work we are facing.

Last updated: 10 June 2024

Kelly Nicoll CFIOSH

Job role


  • Governance and compliance


  • building standards
  • Fit note reform
  • General Election survey
  • Safer, healthier, happier