safetyThere’s a simple fact about health and safety that sometimes people forget about. Health and safety saves lives.

So how does health and safety save lives, you might ask? My answer, well it saves lives in all kinds of ways. I could tell you that as a result of a process of risk management and control, workplaces are made safer. Inevitably this means in some situations people who would otherwise have been killed remain alive.

However, the trouble with my answer, no matter how valid it may be, is that it’s all theoretical. I have a theory that people don’t always respond that well to the theoretical.

Instead I think people respond better to examples. For example, cases where people have tragically lost their lives at work and it’s been shown that if action had been taken before the event, the tragedy could have been avoided. My blogs have sometimes featured such cases.

This time though I’d like to demonstrate how health and safety can even save lives in an unexpected way. Who would have thought, for example, that something such as the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations could save lives?

Now these regulations say that if you employ people who use Display Screen Equipment (DSE), such as those working with Visual Display Units (VDUs) etc, you must do things like risk assessments, implement controls and provide training and information. They also say that employers must provide eye and eyesight tests on request, and spectacles if needed.

Still not getting the lifesaving bit? Well according to Specsavers Corporate Eyecare at least 47 lives were saved last year alone through routine visits to their opticians. These straightforward sight checks led to the detection of life-threatening conditions, which were subsequently successfully treated.

Specsavers also say that only around a quarter of employers actually comply with the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations. So if you’re one of them, well done. You could easily have saved a life.

About Teresa Budworth





Teresa Budworth, Chief Executive of the National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health

During a 30 year career in health and safety, she has specialised in safety consultancy; working with a number of Boards of Directors on implementing safety governance within large and diverse organisations. Her work on competence, education and training culminated in her appointment as Chief Executive of NEBOSH; the National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health, in 2006.

Prior to joining NEBOSH, Teresa combined management of Norwich Union Risk Service’s (now Aviva) Consultancy operation with her post as a non-executive Director and Trustee of NEBOSH and was Senior Examiner for Diploma Part One from its inception in 1997. She is a Visiting Senior Teaching Fellow and member of the Examination Board for post graduate courses in Occupational Health at the University of Warwick’s Medical School. She is a member of RoSPA’s National Occupational Safety and Health Committee and also serves on the judging panel for RoSPA’s annual occupational safety and health awards. She is a member of IOSH Council.