The most common health and safety complaints about the workplace revealed

A recent study of data from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and a survey of UK workers have revealed the most frequent health and safety complaints.

The survey of almost 1,000 workers in the UK found that 17% have made complaints about their workplace, with the most common complaints raised being about the air quality and temperature (42%), followed by the physical workplace (24%) and cleanliness (20%).

Data on the number of complaints made to the HSE over working conditions between 2016 and 2019 was requested and analysed by on-site accommodation provider Bunkabin. Over the three-year period, the most frequent subject of a complaint was toilet facilities, with a total of 2,987 complaints.

Other common reasons for raising complaints to the HSE included excessive noise (898), lack of canteen/restaurant/eating facilities (471), and damp (463).

A different survey conducted by Bunkabin in 2019 found that 47% of workers think their employers could do more to improve their toilet and shower facilities, while 28% said their workplaces feature toilets that are not separate and lockable, and 8% work in locations with no toilet facilities at all.

Of those who made a complaint, the majority (38%) feel it was not taken seriously, while 15% said it was completely ignored. Only 18% said that their complaint was listened to carefully and taken very seriously.

In relation to the action taken following their complaint, 31% said their complaint was not very well addressed, i.e. the actions taken to address the complaint were minimal or insufficient, while 20% said their complaint was completely ignored and no action was taken.

Luke Rothwell, Director at Bunkabin, said: “Employees are often the best people to provide information on risks in the workplace, and employers should ensure that workers understand how to raise concerns about the workplace and feel confident to do so. Involving them in making decisions shows that health and safety is taken seriously.

“It is shocking to think that the majority of complaints from workers are either falling on deaf ears or being inadequately responded to. Employers have a legal duty to ensure that workers are kept safe while carrying out their duties, and is one of the most basic and essential requirements for any business.

“For many industries, such as construction and agriculture, workers are often working unsupervised in hazardous conditions, so if a worker fears for their own safety, they should feel confident to raise their concerns with their employer.”

The survey also revealed that a quarter of workers in the UK are not familiar with the procedure to make a complaint relating to health and safety risks in the workplace, despite it being a legal requirement.

Employers are required, by law, to tell workers about health and safety, including the work they do, how risks are controlled and the best ways of providing information. As part of the regulations, an HSE-approved law poster must always be on display, or each worker must be provided with the equivalent information in leaflet form.

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