Beyond the factory gates: Why building a safer society makes perfect business sense

very high towerEvery once in a while we all need a pat on the back, a round of applause, a cream cake…

Although RoSPA doesn’t usually confer coffee éclairs, profiteroles or mille-feuille on the most deserving, it does reward health and safety’s highest-flyers with evenings of glitz, glamour and gongs.

Our annual Occupational Health and Safety Awards are world famous, fast becoming the most sought-after accolade by organisations from every sector.

And it’s easy to see why – there’s much to celebrate. Decades of hard work, from the shop floor to the boardroom, have contributed to a phenomenal drop in the number of people being killed at work, from about 700 in the 1950s to just over 170 in 2011-12.

But this is the bit where I clear my throat and utter a big “however”…

While we’re well on the way to producing a Zen state of “zero harm” at work, a silent epidemic is sweeping through our homes.

More than a third of the 14,000 people who die in accidents ever year are killed in the home – making accidents the top cause of early, preventable death for most of our lives.

Despite the havoc they wreak, a strange law is at work that seems to apply only to accidents: the higher the priority, the lower the profile… which is why we thinks it’s time to intensify our campaigning and fundraising activity.

As the UK’s biggest and best-known safety charity, we’re desperate to provide more practical schemes that will directly benefit those most at risk. But we can only do that with the support of others, especially those in the private sector.

The safety savvy among us will already know that people of working age suffer five times more accidental injury outside the workplace than they do in working time.

But what they might not know is that there’s something they can do about it…

Too young to die

RoSPA’s Award winners have already been very generous this year. When we played them our appeals video Too Young to Die over four nights in Birmingham and Glasgow they contributed almost £28,000 to our charitable mission.

The money from the event in Glasgow will go some way to ensuring that every child starting primary school in Scotland next year will receive a free book. The publication, penned by popular children’s author Linda Strachan, will help to keep tens of thousands of young ones safe from the hazards that pose the most risk to them.

The money from the gala dinners in Birmingham will be used to support our bid to create a RoSPA Safe Community – a place where no person need die or be seriously injured by an accident.

This scheme will target those areas with the highest accident rates and will see RoSPA team up with local authorities, businesses and volunteers to implement a series of high-impact, low-cost measures such as 20mph zones, smoke/carbon monoxide alarms, and stair gates.

Joining the dots

By taking a more strategic approach to the problem, we know we can save many more lives.

And that’s where you take to the stage, with the applause still ringing in your ears. Who better to have at the heart of a RoSPA Safe Community than one, or more, of its high-flying Award winners?Success Road Sign

Most companies these days run corporate social responsibility programmes or charity committees, so why not align these sources of support with your already unstinting commitment to preventing harm?

Not only will the results directly benefit your workforce and their families, they will also benefit the wider community.

It’s time we thought beyond the factory gates and brought safety home to all of the vulnerable people we live alongside – the boisterous toddler next door, the frail pensioner in the next street, or the young driver on the corner, who’s itching to take his new car for a spin.

Accident prevention is not rocket science and is not costly – but it is needed, now more than ever. So what’s stopping us?

To get involved, just give me a shout. Call 0121 248 2507, or drop me a line via

I look forward to hearing from you.

Michael Corley

RoSPA’s Head of Campaigns & Fundraising

Now read this

4000 Years of Health and Safety

Carrot Vs Stick: An employer’s guide to motivating staff

Why a great safety record really IS something to crow about!


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