80 per cent of managers say budgetary constraints are risk to workplace safety

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Budgetary constraints and skills shortages are the top workplace safety challenges facing managers according to a new report.

According to the annual report published today by Dräger Safety UK about 80 per cent of managers say these issues will remain a concern over the next 12 months.

Financial pressures are such that almost half of 259 managers who responded to the survey reported old or outdated safety equipment not being replaced. They were also seeing delays to the service and maintenance of safety equipment due to financial pressures on their businesses and that this was a risk to safety in their industry.

Half of 259 managers who responded to the survey reported old or outdated safety equipment not being replaced. Photograph: iStock

 A quarter (26 per cent) said that companies trying to save money by cutting staff numbers and bringing in energy cost-cutting measures such as turning lights or heating down (43 per cent), risked compromising safety, particularly in industrial settings.

The report also includes survey responses from 750 employees and gives an indication of how economic pressures are impacting on worker wellbeing.

It shows that 38 per cent of workers report experiencing increased anxiety or depression as a result of cost-of-living pressures and financial difficulties. And 53 per cent were less able to focus as a result of stress, with 22 per cent relying more on alcohol or non-prescription drugs.

Workplace safety in the cost of living crisis - a snapshot of findings by Draeger Safety UK. Illustration: Draeger Safety UK

Matthew Bedford, Managing Director, Dräger Safety UK, said: “Last year the research highlighted ‘an unprecedented opportunity’ for a positive, long-term change in relation to workplace safety post-Covid. However, this year’s study would suggest that this opportunity is being cancelled out by the current financial pressures that companies – and individuals – are facing.”

He added: “The research suggests that financial pressures may be prompting some businesses to ‘cut corners’ when it comes to trying to reduce spending – delaying servicing and maintenance of safety equipment for example. But poor mental health among workers due to financial worries, which in turn has the potential to impact physical safety at work through factors such as lack of sleep and focus, is also a key issue.”

The research was conducted among UK organisations with 50+ employees during March and April 2023. It was commissioned and funded by Dräger Safety UK and conducted independently by Insight Avenue UK. 

More positively, it found that people are feeling safer at work compared to two years ago (54 per cent). Technology has also revolutionised safety over the years, with 45 per cent saying the increased availability of safety data has improved decision making. A majority (65 per cent) believe AI can play a role in improving safety in their sector, particularly those working in oil and gas and renewables.

Dräger Safety at Work Report 2023 here 


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