Health and Wellbeing

The UK Safety & Wellbeing Index

Written by Phoenix Health & Safety
12th August 2021
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We may not see it, but all workers are entitled to work environments where risks to their health and safety are properly controlled. However,  data from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) states that a total of 142 workers were killed at work in Great Britain in 2020/21, an increase of 29 from the previous year*,  a saddening statistic that may have been avoidable.

Although Great Britain is one of the safest places to work in the world, with comparatively strong standards to other nations, recent data shows workplace fatalities are on the rise. We’ve decided to delve deeper and shed light on how people are affected by where they choose to live and work across the UK.

Our UK Safety & Wellbeing Index, reveals where workplace fatalities and mental health rates, amongst other factors, are most prevalent, and how areas of the UK scored comparatively to others.

Our ‘Safety & Wellbeing Index’ is developed with a point scoring system using five contributing factors to reveal the best and worst places to live and work in the UK.

How the Index works

Quite often, when you think about workplace health and safety, injuries and fatalities naturally spring to mind. The reality is that many other areas, such as mental health, criminal activity and sickness from work are all contributing factors in whether somewhere is considered safe to work.

We’ve analysed 40 UK cities against the following five factors to create a scoring index for the state of safety & wellbeing at work in the UK:

  • Non-fatal accidents in the workplace

  • Mental health issues reported

  • Crime levels 

  • Sickness absence rates in the workplace

  • Death rates 

These five key elements of safety & wellbeing have been given points scores ranging from 0 to 100.  Zero constitutes being the lowest and best level, and 100 points being the highest and worst. All data was collected from national statistics data sources*.

The Safest Cities to Work in the UK

These are three cities tied as ‘the safest city to work’ title, all with combined index scores of 19/100, only beating each other by a fraction of a point. 

Image: Swindon

1.     Swindon 

2.     Luton

3.     London 

Swindon, Luton and London all ranked as the safest cities to live and work in the UK. 

The three cities perform well on the level of injuries at work, which largely contributed to their overall low score. Reading and Slough also featured in the top five, scoring 20 and 21 respectively.

Digging deeper into the detail, we found that Slough scores a perfect 0 points for deaths in the workplace – the only city in the report that had nothing to declare in this area. Whilst both Reading & Luton are setting standards for low levels of injuries at work.

York performs well against mental health criteria and also has low crime at work levels, helping them earn a spot in the top 10, but their higher-than-average sickness rates are what brings them down.

Comparing that to London, which tops the leader board for low sickness rates, when also paired with low injury at work levels it’s clear from the data how they’ve earned 3rd place.

The Worst Cities for Safety & Wellbeing 

Image: Wakefield city centre

There’s always room for improvement and these five cities, unfortunately, came through short-handed in the index for safety & wellbeing of their workers. 

1.     Wakefield

2.     Doncaster

3.     Salford

4.     Rochdale

5.     Rotherham

The dreaded bottom place on the index goes to Wakefield with an average score of 80/100. This is due to Wakefield receiving extremely poor scores for the number of deaths and injuries in the workplace and even when paired with the relatively average scores for mental health, crime and sickness, the city remained as the most hazardous place to work. 

Also in the bottom five rankings were Doncaster, Salford, Rochdale and Rotherham, showing that areas on the outskirts of Greater Manchester and South Yorkshire are also considered some of the most hazardous places to work.

In fact, not only are the bottom five positions filled by northern locations but the bottom 3rd of the table consists entirely of locations from Northern England. It is clear from this data that there is a clear north-south divide in the standards of workplace health & wellbeing.

How to improve the safety & wellbeing of your workplace 

The demand for better working conditions and wellbeing in the workplace is becoming a prevalent topic across all industries in the workforce. Not only do employees expect more from their employers, but businesses can now face hefty fines if they do not meet the required duty of care to their workforce.

Nick Higgison, Managing Director of Phoenix Health & Safety offers three key tips on maintaining better levels of safety and wellbeing for your workforce.

  1. Take mental health as seriously as physical health - By creating a culture in which employees know, for example, they can take a sick day for mental health-related issues equally as they could if they had a physical illness, you are creating a safer environment for people to work in.  Employees will feel more comfortable sharing information which can lead to much better mental health and work, and in turn productivity. 

  1. Reward employees for safe behaviour - When businesses offer a reward system for following safe behaviour, such as ensuring the correct processes are undertaken throughout their day to day role, it not only reinforces this to the workforce but would likely lead to less workplace injury. Others tend to follow suit as they understand the best ways to be recognised for their hard work is to do things in the correct manner rather than the fastest way.

  1. Provide regular meetings on workplace safety - In many cases, health & safety training is taught when onboarding staff, although a one-off approach will not suffice when keeping your workplace safe continuously over the years. Regular health & safety training allows the business to refresh and remind employees of their duty to follow protocols and how this can impact their safety. It also allows staff an opportunity to ask any questions and offer an open flow of communication in the business. 


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Methodology 

Each raw data set has been amalgamated and sorted into a points scoring system ranging between 0-100. 

0 being the lowest (the best) and 100 being the highest (and the worst). The total number is an average of all the factors in each city. Again the higher the number the worse it is.

We have gathered population data on each city and analysed each raw data from the five factors to compare the results to each city per capita (1,000 people). We normalised the metrics in each data set to sit between a number which would result in the ranges between  0-100. 

Some statistics will appear as the number 0. This does not mean there is no data on it, but the raw data shows a low-level metric and therefore sits at level 0 in comparison to other data metrics. 

The resulting number of each city is the average number of each factor added up in that city, to provide a balanced points scoring system out of 100. This number then allows us to index the cities for their safety and wellbeing with the data we have available. 


*Raw Data Sources

References:

* https://scottishconstructionnow.com/article/number-of-workplace-fatalities-on-the-rise-but-broadly-level-with-recent-years