The latest figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show a sharp rise in worker injuries, with a 28% increase year on year – and a steep increase in ill health compared to pre-pandemic levels.

The HSE has now released its annual summary statistics for Great Britain, providing new insight into health and safety at work in 2022.

At a headline level, 1.8 million workers suffered from work-related ill health (new or longstanding) in 2021/22, up 5.8% from last year. This reveals a worrying trend around mental health, although new cases are down, from 850,000 to 722,000.

Equally concerning is the fact that 565,000 workers sustained a non-fatal injury in 2021/22 according to self-reports – representing a year-on-year increase of 28%. Injuries reported by employers under RIDDOR have also increased, from 51,211 to 61,713, although this is likely to be as a result of more people returning to work after the pandemic.

While a 28% increase in work-related injuries is alarming at face value, it’s important to note that this is still lower than post-pandemic levels. Indeed, 693,000 workers sustained a non-fatal injury in 2019/20 and 581,000 workers were injured in 2018/19, the last year unimpacted by the pandemic.

Conversely, the number of new ill-health cases has almost doubled compared to pre-pandemic times, from 497,000 to 722,000. Total cases have also risen from 1.4 million to 1.8 million – an increase of 29%.

Additionally, highlighting the devastating consequences of poor health and safety practices, the report confirms that 123 workers were killed at work during this period, validating provisional data from its fatal injuries report released earlier this year.

The causes of ill health

Stress, depression and anxiety remains the leading cause of work-related ill health, accounting for 51% of all ill-health cases.

Echoing previous years, musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) were the second most common cause of ill health, making up 27% of all cases. That said, in terms of actual figures, the number of MSD cases has remained broadly flat, increasing marginally from 470,000 to 477,000.

Meanwhile, though the total number of workers suffering from work-related stress, depression or anxiety has increased from 822,000 to 914,000, there has been an 17.5% drop in new cases, from 451,000 to 372,000.

Nick Wilson, Director of Health & Safety Services at EssentialSkillz’ sister companyWorkNest, commented: “It’s interesting to see that new cases of work-related stress, depression and anxiety have fallen over the past year. This is somewhat surprising, given the various stressors people are facing at present, though of course not all of these are work-related. Still, this doesn’t change the fact that, overall, cases have increased by 11.2% and we now know that 17.0 million working days were lost as a result – emphasising that this should remain a key area of focus for employers, not only for their staff’s sake but for the sake of business productivity too.”

Sector-wise, human health/social work and public administration/defence were found to have the highest rates of work-related ill health. Notably, while Education remains in third with 160,000 ill-health cases (59% of which related to stress, depression and anxiety), it seems some progress is being made, as its rate of ill health per 100,000 workers is no longer statistically significantly higher than the all-industry average.


By accident type, the report reflects previous years. Slips, trips or falls on same level; handling, lifting or carrying; and being struck by a moving object remain the leading cause of non-fatal work-related injuries, followed by acts of violence and falls from height.

By sector, agriculture, forestry and fishing, construction, wholesale/retail trade; repair of motor vehicles; and accommodation/food service activities had statistically significantly higher workplace injury rates compared to the average rate across all industries.

The cost to businesses

This year’s report includes some interesting figures around the cost of work-related injury and ill health to businesses – data that was missing from the previous year’s report due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Crucially, it reveals that a staggering 36.8 million working days were lost due to work-related ill health and non-fatal workplace injury in 2021/22.

In addition, latest available data shows the significant costs incurred by employers, individuals and the government. In total, work-related injuries and new cases of ill health (excluding long latency illness such as cancer) cost an eye-watering £18.8 billion in 2019/20, £3.5 billion of which was borne by employers.

Broken down further, £11.2 billion of the total cost was incurred by new ill-health cases, with £7.6 billion due to workplace injuries.

Nick Wilson said: “The fact that 60% of this total cost comes from ill health is worth noting, as employers often devote their health and safety efforts to accident reduction, when in fact it’s ill health that stands to cost them more.

“Of course, a big part of this cost comes from absences. The report shows that 1% of injuries and 3.3% of ill-health cases result in time off work. Again, ill health seems to be the bigger problem to tackle; while injuries are now slightly less likely to result in time off than they were in 2013 (back then, 1.4% of cases led to time off work), the number of ill-health cases that require time off has crept up in the past decade (from 1.9%).”


Turning to the COVID-19 pandemic, the report reveals that in 2021/22, 123,000 workers suffered from a new or longstanding case of COVID-19 which they believe may have been from exposure to coronavirus at work. This represents 32% increase on last year, despite – or perhaps because of – a perception that the pandemic is behind us and the virus having become less of a focus for employers.

Nick Wilson said: “Despite many organisations maintaining some sort of hybrid working model, working practices have largely returned to normal, and many people are now back at work with fewer COVID precautions in place. The HSE’s new stats are a stark reminder that COVID hasn’t gone away, and while figures suggest that the winter wave has already peaked, employers must continue to take reasonably practicable measures to reduce this risk.”

There has, however, been a drop of almost 10% in the number of workers suffering from a work-related illness either caused or made worse by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, from 645,000 to 585,000. Unsurprisingly, around a quarter of those suffering were in human health and social work activities, with higher than average rates also reported in public administration/ defence and education.

More to be done

Nick Wilson concludes: “While the number of injuries to workers is lower than pre-pandemic levels, it’s disappointing that the decrease we saw last year hasn’t been maintained. The fact that this year’s figure has shot back up also suggests that the perceived improvements noted in last year’s report may have simply been down to the pandemic and fewer people working rather than any real improvement in workplace health and safety.”

He adds: “Some might say a rise in injuries was inevitable given the wider return to work, but it’s important that employers don’t become complacent. COVID-19 put health and safety firmly on the agenda, and it must continue to be a priority now that the immediate threat of the pandemic has subsided. To drive down the numbers further, employers should focus on the suitability of their risk assessments, particularly as many won’t have revisited them since reopening.”

“More worryingly, however, is the rise we’re seeing in workplace ill health compared to pre-pandemic levels. Employers must recognise that ill health, including stress and anxiety that may be caused or aggravated by work, is considered alongside all the traditional workplace hazards we are accustomed to tackling.”

The full report is available here.

Get your free trial of online training courses to support your staff

To minimise the risks of serious accidents happening in the workplace and to help support your employees with their health, safety and wellbeing, we offer a comprehensive programme of health and safety and wellbeing eLearning courses that can be taken anywhere, at any time. For a 7-day free trial, click here. 

According to new research by our sister company, WorkNest, 200 organisations have faced over £47million in fines since 2005 for workplace accidents judged to be ‘wholly unavoidable’.

The study looked at 200 health and safety prosecutions brought by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) dating back to 2005, spanning ten different sectors to establish common root causes. WorkNest specifically examined the prosecutions with commentary containing phrases such as “wholly unavoidable”, “could have been prevented”, and “entirely preventable”.

In 97 of the 200 cases that were reviewed (48.5%), inspectors stated that the employer had failed to put in place adequate risk control plans and strategies to manage health and safety risks – a fundamental error which resulted in serious injuries and even fatalities.

The fact is, the vast majority of workplace accidents are preventable. These statistics are especially alarming, as in 2022, there is simply no excuse for organisations not to be managing their health and safety risks, and for business owners not to know what is required of them under health and safety law. Still, annual fatal injury statistics continue to remind us that serious incidents can and do occur in all manner of workplaces, and in order to drive down the numbers, business leaders need to know why.

So what health and safety mistakes are employers still making?

Whilst some accidents have multiple contributing factors, the three most common primary root causes of serious safety incidents in the workplace, according to WorkNest’s research was: Lack of planning (48.5%), Failure to risk assess (32.5%) and Lack of machine guarding/ maintenance (8%).

Other underlying failings cited by the HSE included a lack of training (3.5% of cases), poor supervision (1.5% of cases) and poor management systems (1% of cases).

A lack of training is a key mistake

The HSE’s Accident Prevention Advisory Unit has shown that human error is a major contributory cause of 90% of accidents, 70% of which could have been prevented by management action. Enrolling employees in courses such as Health and Safety Essentials and Introduction to Working Safely – as well as immersive training challenges – will help to prevent accidents by ensuring everyone in your organisation is aware of their responsibilities.

Note that training was also identified as a secondary reason behind many of the incidents that formed part of the research, so it’s importance should not be overlooked.

What does this analysis tell us?

Examining the root causes of these cases highlights that even in 2022 – nearly 50 years on from the introduction of the Health and Safety at Work Act – many organisations are failing to implement even the Plan and Do phases of Plan, Do, Check, Act. These are the basics of good health and safety management, and the fact that some employers are still not taking these steps – and are running the gauntlet for whatever reason – is very concerning.

Aside from the devastating human impact, these oversights are costing employers significantly. In fact, taking into account the fines and legal costs involved, these 200 prosecutions cost employers over £47 million, plus almost £4 million in legal costs.

Often, the rationale for poor practices is “I wasn’t aware”, “I don’t have the time”, “that’s not my job”, “we don’t have the funding” or simply “it will be alright”. When you run a business, time and money is precious, but a lot more time and money will be consumed by a serious incident or fatality – and many organisations have learned the hard way, so invest in good health and safety training practices now.

Not sure your safety training processes are up to scratch?

EssentialSkillz can help your organisation take a proactive approach to health and safety compliance through a comprehensive suite of RoSPA and IIRSM Approved Health and Safety e-Learning courses. From Fire Safety to DSE online training, all of our health and safety courses are fully interactive and provide users with everything they need to stay safe in the workplace. Each and every course is regularly updated to ensure technical accuracy and their alignment with best practice.

Get in touch with us to arrange your 7-Day free trial.

Following a recent survey by YouGov, the TUC has called for the government to introduce a range of measures to support LGBT people at work.

Along with pay gap reporting, which indicates that LGBT workers are paid 16% less (effectively £6,703 per year), the government is being urged to consult with unions to protect LGBT people from workplace bullying and harassment, by introducing a new duty on employers to make workplaces safe.

The poll of around 1000 HR managers, also found that:

Bullying and harassment: Only half (51%) of managers surveyed said they had a policy prohibiting sexual discrimination, bullying and harassment against LGBT workers in their workplace.

Less than half (47%) said they had a clear reporting route for workers to raise concerns about discrimination, bullying and harassment against LGBT workers – even though one in seven (15%) managers had responded to bullying, harassment or discrimination against one or more LGBT workers.

Trans workers: Just one in four (25%) managers said that they had a policy setting out support for trans (including non-binary) workers who wish to transition to live as another gender.

Family-friendly working: Less than half (47%) of HR managers told the TUC that they had family policies (such as adoption, maternity, paternity and shared parental leave policies) that apply equally to LGBT workers.

Of those HR managers whose workplaces that have LGBT policies in place, only around one in three (34%) have reviewed those policies in the last 12 months.

More than one in four (28%) can’t remember when they last looked at them.

Ensure your bullying and harassment policies are clear and inclusive

Many workplaces don’t have specific policies in place to support their LGBT staff, and without these policies, too many LGBT workers experience bullying, harassment and discrimination at work.

To combat discrimination or harassment at work, business leaders should have stringent internal policies which are critical to supporting LGBT staff. Policy documents should highlight the consequences for any customers, clients, colleagues or third parties who are guilty of harassing employees, including LGBT.

It’s also critical to make the process easier for employees to raise grievances and challenge harassment, so this behaviour never gets repeated to another colleague or person in general. Employees must visibly see that their business leaders take harassment cases very seriously and recognise that any issues get tackled straight away, so colleagues feel comfortable raising issues and know what they say matters.

Employee training is key to preventing workplace misconduct

Everyone deserves access to a safe working environment, and education is key to preventing bullying and harassment at work. Prioritising compulsory equality and diversity training to prevent discrimination and harassment in the workplace, as well as training on how to respect one another, will help reinforce the behaviour that employees should adhere to while at work.

Diversity and inclusion measures don’t just stop there. It should also include educating employees to be more aware of unconscious bias, often based on appearance, cultural, social behaviour or experience, to help change viewpoints and build an inclusive culture.

In addition, training should include implementing inclusive family policies such as adoption, maternity and parental leave, making it easier for LGBT workers to recognise their inclusion. Business leaders must also support the use of gender-neutral pronouns in the workplace and how its use can be effective in making LGBT employees feel more comfortable in the workplace.

Take a look at our range of Diversity and Inclusion online training courses and improve diversity and inclusion awareness among your employees and managers.

2021 was an auspicious year for EssentialSkillz. In our mission to deliver more value to our customers, we released multiple updates to the WorkWize compliance platform, alongside a raft of new courses and improvements. In this blog, we put the spotlight on some of the highlights that were accomplished by the efforts of our fantastic team over the last year.

1) Launched new features and improvements on our WorkWize compliance platform

Our team has worked hard to roll out new features and improvements to enhance the user experience on WorkWize. Some of these improvements include:

  • Improved branding and colour themes – With a more modern design, our platform looks better than ever, all whilst remaining fully accessible in line with WCAG compliance
  • Upgraded the performance of our servers – Meaning that WorkWize now responds even faster for our customers and their users
  • Upgraded accounts to Automatic User Management – Our support team has now made automatic User Management standard, meaning that all of our customers can measure their levels of compliance more effectively
  • FTPS is now supported – We are pleased to offer greater flexibility in how users are imported, with the option to send user data over FTPS
  • Enabled External IDs and Usernames for Authentication – You now have the flexibility to use different information to identify your users. Users can be identified using their email address or their username when using Single sign on
  • Launched Mobile Friendly updates – Our mobile friendly updates make the platform more responsive on mobile devices and give your staff the ability to easily carry out their compliance training from anywhere
  • Added new Help, Support Guides and Videos – Thanks to our Help, Support Guides and Videos, users can resolve queries and get answers to questions quicker and more easily than ever

2) New Courses and Course Updates Released

At EssentialSkillz, we ensure that our courses provide the best learning experience and are up to date with the latest compliance regulations and best practices. In 2021, we were pleased to expand our extensive library of courses with the release of an additional 5 new courses and 15 course updates.

New courses from 2021 are:

  • Unconscious Bias
  • Gender and Sexuality Awareness
  • Emergency First Aid Awareness
  • Respect in the Workplace
  • Bullying in the Workplace

2021 course updates included:

  • Slips, Trips and Falls
  • COSHH (Hazardous Substances)
  • Return to Work
  • Return to Work for Managers
  • Disciplinary & Grievance
  • Pandemic Awareness
  • Phishing Awareness
  • Drugs and Alcohol at Work
  • Asbestos Awareness
  • Internet, Email & Social Media
  • Data Protection
  • Cyber Security
  • Personal Protective Equipment
  • Coronavirus
  • Legionella

We also have a mobile friendly upgrade available. Now you can choose to upgrade your courses to get a better user experience when using mobile devices for learning.

3) New microlearning features

Our development team have been working behind the scenes on new microlearning features that are soon to be released for our customers. Clients who use Author will soon be able to create Compliance Memos or Learning Nuggets to distribute short pieces of content to their users from within the WorkWize platform. Learning Nuggets also give users the ability to access short, mobile-friendly from anywhere.

4) Won BSIF Award for Customer Service Excellence second year running

Winning this award for the second time is a great tribute to the efforts of the outstanding Customer Support team at EssentialSkillz. Over the past two years, they have delivered an outstanding service, providing our clients with technical expertise, reliability and empathy at a time when businesses really needed it.

5) Completed our yearly Information Security test and Certifications

At EssentialSkillz, we value the importance of cyber security and are committed to providing our customers with the best possible protection. Here is a list of some of the yearly certifications and tests that were carried out in 2021:

  • In May, we obtained the Cyber Essentials Plus certification. Cyber Essentials is a verified certification that endorses that the cyber defences we have in place at EssentialSkillz will protect against the majority of common cyberattacks. Cyber Essentials Plus provides an additional level of assurance as an external auditor technically assesses the effectiveness of Cyber Essentials controls that we have implemented
  • In July, we became certified for IASME Governance. In line with IASME standards, our cybersecurity policies and procedures are safe and fully GDPR compliant.
  • In Q3 we successfully completed our annual PEN Test, when cyber security auditors checked for potential vulnerabilities in the Workwize platform

6) Acquisition by Marlowe

Towards the beginning of Q4, EssentialSkillz was acquired by Marlowe plc, the UK leader in business-critical services and software which assure safety and regulatory compliance. EssentialSkillz will act as a platform for Marlowe’s compliance software businesses as a key part of its governance, risk and compliance division. More information on Marlowe plc can be found at:

7) Ethics and Sustainability

At EssentialSkillz, we have a strong commitment towards sustainability and good ethical practises. In 2021, our efforts were recognised by the EcoVadis program, which gave us a silver award and placed us within the top 25% of companies that participated. We are very proud of this achievement and look to improve our score in the future as we do our part to mitigate our impact on the environment.

Here at EssentialSkillz, we maintain a strong commitment towards sustainability and good ethical practises. We are very proud to announce that our efforts were recently recognised by the Ecovadis program, who gave us a silver award and placed us within the top 25% of companies that participated.

We undertook the program to better understand our ethical and climate impact, as well as help our clients meet their commitments and goals. Participating organisations answered a questionnaire covering four categories: the environment, labour and human rights, ethics, and sustainable procurement.

Once completed, the questionnaire and supporting evidence was reviewed and assessed by an EcoVadis expert. The methodology used by EcoVadis “is built on international sustainability standards, including the Global Reporting Initiative, the United Nations Global Compact, and the ISO 26000”.

We are very proud of this achievement and look to improve our score in the future as we do our part to mitigate our impact on the environment.

A pronoun is used to replace a proper noun, such as someone’s name, and is often used to refer to a person without mentioning their name. For example, She is running a little late.

In English, the pronouns we have been taught to use follow a gender binary – she/her for girls and he/him for boys. For example, Igor’s presentation was excellent. He really put a lot of time and effort into it. In this example, ‘he’ is the pronoun which refers to ‘Igor’, and assumes that Igor identifies his gender as a man. While this might be true for Igor, it might not be true or respectful to use for people whose gender identity sits outside of the gender binary.

As our understanding of gender identity and expression has evolved, so has the language around pronouns and their use. No longer are people restricted to the binary gender pronouns he/she – people are free to choose their own pronouns (or lack of pronouns) that better represent their gender identity.


The terms sex and gender are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same.

  • A person’s sex is the label given to them at birth based on biological and physiological characteristics at that time. This is either male or female, or in some countries, intersex. A person’s sex is sometimes referred to as sex assigned at birth.
  • A person’s gender is a social, psychological and cultural construct and relates to behaviours and attributes that a society associates with being male and female; gender identity is the gender that someone perceives themselves as internally. This can be female, male, neither, a blend of both or another gender(s).

A person might identify as:

  • Cisgender if their gender identity is the same as their sex assigned at birth.
  • Transgender if their gender identity is different to their sex assigned at birth.
  • Non-binary if their gender identity sits outside the gender binary – they might feel their gender is a blend of both male and female, undefined or neutral, multiple genders or another gender(s). Other identities under the non-binary umbrella include genderqueer, gender non-conforming, genderfluid and third gender people.



For cisgender people, he/she pronouns might be comfortable and appropriate. However, for people whose gender identity does not neatly align with their sex assigned at birth, using he/she pronouns might not accurately reflect how they feel about themselves and could leave the person feeling uncomfortable, disrespected or dismissed.

People whose gender identity sits outside of the gender binary most often use gender-neutral pronouns, such as they/them used in the singular, in place of she/her or he/him. There are also other gender-neutral pronouns they could use or they might choose to forgo pronouns all together. The following chart outlines some common pronouns, what they sound like and how to use them correctly in a sentence.

Pronoun Example sentence
*use in the singular
Taylor is joining the team on Monday – let’s all give them a warm welcome. We expect they will be a great addition to our organisation.
Sounds like: Zee/Zeer
Taylor is joining the team on Monday – let’s all give zir a warm welcome. We expect ze will be a great addition to our organisation.
Sounds like:
Taylor is joining the team on Monday – let’s all give xyr a warm welcome. We expect xe will be a great addition to our organisation.
No pronoun
*use the person’s name
Taylor is joining the team on Monday – let’s all give Taylor a warm welcome. We expect Taylor will be a great addition to our organisation.

*This is not an exhaustive list of all of the pronouns.

Sharing, asking about and using pronouns

You cannot determine by looking at someone what pronoun they prefer. Use gender-neutral pronouns or the person’s name until you have the opportunity to ask them or you can confirm which pronouns they want you to use.

It might feel strange to ask someone about their preferred pronouns, but it is important that we begin to normalise sharing and asking about them so that we can use and hear the language that best represents our true selves. Doing so builds a culture of respect and inclusion for everyone.

An easy way to share pronouns throughout your organisation is to add it to various communication channels. For example, on your instant messaging service profile or email signature

When you find out a person’s preferred pronoun, make sure to use it. If you are ever unsure how to use it in a sentence, look it up online or ask the person politely to give you some examples. Using their pronouns shows that you respect them.

Making mistakes

Even if you know someone’s preferred pronoun, you might sometimes make a mistake. These things happen. If you do slip up, apologise and correct yourself. Even if you didn’t intend to cause harm, you are still responsible for the impact.

If you didn’t realise you made a mistake and someone tells you that you hurt their feelings, don’t dismiss it or make up excuses. Be willing to listen to how they are feeling and empathise with them. When we listen, we get a better understanding of the other person’s perspective and show them that we acknowledge their feelings.

You can also help build an inclusive work environment by encouraging others to use a person’s correct pronouns. If a colleague or manager uses the person’s pronouns incorrectly, politely correct them.


Want to learn more about pronouns and how to promote respect in the workplace?

Try our new Gender & Sexuality Awareness Online Training Course for Free. Click the link below for a Free Trial.

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At the beginning of the Covid-19 lockdown, many businesses needed to rapidly convert from a physical office to the remote working environment. If you were one of those businesses, you likely have had to tweak your processes to ensure smooth business operations, which might have included your disciplinary and grievance procedures. Before Covid, the idea of conducting a formal disciplinary meeting on a video call might have seemed unthinkable. But now that remote and hybrid working are becoming more permanent arrangements in many organisations, organisations need to have robust disciplinary and grievance procedures that ensure fairness for remote and hybrid workers.

Below are some important things to consider for disciplinary and grievance procedures in a virtual working environment.


1. Technology

If it is not possible to hold the formal disciplinary/grievance meeting in person, then videoconferencing may be a suitable alternative. However, every attempt should be made to avoid technical issues that will impact the meeting. Remember, subjects have the right to appeal if any part of the disciplinary or grievance procedure was unfair or handled incorrectly. Subjects may feel that they have been treated unfairly if for example:

  • Technology issues cause undue stress
  • They have trouble accessing the meeting or any of the evidence
  • They could not express themselves effectively due to the media used.

It’s advisable to test the technology beforehand to ensure that all parties can access the meeting without issue, including the person who will accompany the subject and any witnesses. It is also vital to consider any disabilities that would prevent any participant from accessing or participating in the meeting. Alternative arrangements may be required to ensure that the subject receives a fair hearing.


2. Privacy and security

Remote disciplinary and grievance meetings present a number of privacy and security considerations. It’s important that the online meeting is secure and that access is restricted only to the relevant people. Participants should be advised of confidentiality requirements prior to the meeting and should be aware that no one else can be present in the room while the meeting is taking place. If you need to distribute documented evidence electronically, this should be carried out in accordance with data protection principles. If you intend to record the meeting, all parties must agree to this in advance. If recording is not permitted, this should be explicitly stated to all attendees. 


3. Gathering and distributing documents and evidence

Gathering information and evidence from both sides may be more difficult when working remotely but it is still essential to ensure fairness. Documentation may include personnel files, performance reviews, emails, training records and compliance reports etc. Subjects should:

  • Have access to all documentation and evidence.
  • Be given appropriate time to review in advance of the meeting.
  • Be aware beforehand of any witnesses that will be included in the formal meeting.


4. Right to be accompanied

The subject still has the legal right to be accompanied to a formal disciplinary/grievance meeting when attending remotely. They may be accompanied by a colleague, a trade union representative or an official employed by a trade union. The accompanying person may:

  • Take notes on the subject’s behalf.
  • Present the subject’s case.
  • Talk things over with the subject during the meeting.
  • Sum up the subject’s case.

You must ensure that the meeting setup allows the accompanying person to do all of these things, even if they are joining remotely. If the accompanying person is unable to access the meeting, the meeting should be postponed to a suitable date. The alternative time and date must be reasonable and not more than five working days from the original date.


5. Is it better to delay?

Considering the challenges associated with remote working, in some cases, it may be better to delay the meeting until it can be conducted in person. In general, unreasonable delays are to be avoided as they can cause additional stress to those involved. However, the risk associated with delays should also be balanced against fairness in these exceptional circumstances. If, for example, the subject cannot access the meeting remotely, the relevant evidence cannot be collected without putting employees at risk or the employee is not able to present their case effectively, then it may be better to delay. Where a delay is necessary, the subject should be notified in writing of the reasons for the delay.


6. Prevention

Managers and supervisors should do their best to prevent issues from escalating to the formal stages of disciplinary and grievance procedures. Where possible, issues should be dealt with informally and at an early stage. But it can be more difficult to notice problems arising when staff are working remotely. It’s more important than ever to ensure that communication is open and frequent and that employees know exactly what is expected of them. Ensure that your code of conduct is available to all employees and reflects the current circumstances. Let your remote employees know how to raise problems and concerns informally.

Working remotely is not without its challenges. Be mindful of your employees’ wellbeing and offer the appropriate support, for example, you can:

  • Encourage staff to reach out and ask for help if they need it.
  • Build interpersonal relationships with your staff and regularly check in with them.
  • Encourage employees to take more breaks and stay connected with colleagues.
  • Provide contact details for external mental health support services.

You can also enrol employees in online awareness training on topics such as Mental Health Awareness, Ergonomics, Wellbeing & Remote working, Healthy Living or Mindfulness. There are a number of other online wellbeing eLearning courses that EssentialSkillz offers that can increase awareness around these important topics, helping employees to take better care of their health, safety and wellbeing when working from home.



Disciplinary and grievance is one of the many areas that need to be approached differently in the virtual environment. Remote working brings new challenges, but we’ve learned how well businesses can adapt to rapidly changing work environments. With the right procedures and tools in place, issues can still be resolved effectively and fairly while protecting the wellbeing of your employees.

We are pleased to announce that EssentialSkillz has been acquired by Marlowe plc, the UK leader in business-critical services and software which assure safety and regulatory compliance.

Marlowe plc are an ambitious company listed on the London Stock Exchange. EssentialSkillz will act as a platform for Marlowe’s compliance software businesses as a key part of its governance, risk and compliance division. More information on Marlowe plc can be found at:

EssentialSkillz remains unchanged and will continue operating in the same way from the same location. The existing staff and senior management team will also remain unchanged, it will be business as usual.

This is an exciting move forward for EssentialSkillz and brings considerable benefits to our customers through the scale and breadth of services offered by the wider group. We look forward to providing the same excellent service to yourselves as part of the Marlowe Group.

Slips, trips and falls may seem trivial. We’ve all slipped on a surface, tripped over an obstacle or fallen down a step. It’s all too easy for individuals and employers to overlook the seriousness of this type of incident in the workplace. When we think of risks to our health and safety, we tend to focus on what makes the headlines: fires; building collapses; machinery and vehicle crushes; or exposure to hazardous substances. Yet, the reality is that slips and trips are the most common cause of reported workplace injuries. 

According to the UK regulator, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE),  slips, trips and falls on the same level caused almost one third (29%) of all reported non-fatal injuries at work in 2019/20. They can also lead to other types of accidents, such as falls from height or falls into machinery. It isn’t just staff who are at risk. Slips and trips cause half of all reported injuries to the public in workplaces where they have access, such as hospitals, shops and restaurants.

Shattered lives

The HSE has long recognised the individual, organisational and societal consequences of slips, trips and falls. It even went as far as to call its last major awareness-raising campaign “shattered lives”. Unlike some common safety hazards, slips and trips aren’t limited to certain industries; they can happen to you wherever you work.

The personal consequences can be devastating. As well as suffering pain from injuries, people may experience emotional distress, and even lose their livelihood. Physical injuries from a slip, trip or fall can range from sprains, cuts and bruises to broken bones, permanent disability and sometimes death. 

In one case, a woman tripped on a hole in the linoleum floor while entering a bowling club pavilion. She fell, hit her head, and later died. In another case, a cook at a busy fast food outlet slipped on a floor that had recently been wet mopped. As he put out his hand to save himself, he pulled over a nearby deep fat fryer, which spilt 35 litres of boiling hot oil. He suffered extensive burns and needed skin grafts. Another employee at the outlet received serious burns to her right leg and ankle.

Hidden Costs

The HSE estimates that organisations lose more than 1.5 million working days each year from these types of incidents. And the costs don’t stop with lost time. There can be other more hidden costs, such as damage to plant and equipment, production delays, as well as the loss of expertise and experience. On top of this there may be other financial penalties, including fines, compensation payouts and reputational damage. 

Last year, retail giant Tesco was ordered to pay fines of £733,333 after a customer slipped on liquid leaking from refrigerator units at one of its stores. He fell and suffered multiple hip fractures. Data obtained and reported by the BBC shows Network Rail paid out nearly £1m in the five years to 2018/19 for slips, trips and falls at its stations across the UK. The largest single pay-out was £39,631 after a passenger slipped on liquid at Charing Cross station.

Not Inevitable  

The HSE identifies the main barriers for organisations trying to reduce slips, trips and falls as:

  • employers and employees failing to take the risks seriously;
  • poor understanding of how these incidents happen;
  • a belief that slips and trips are inevitable – that they are simply a fact of life; and
  • inadequate risk assessments and management controls.

In guidance for its inspectors, the HSE notes that “many employers do not give slips and trips the priority they deserve. They treat them as being outside their control, inevitable or simply the employee’s fault.” It goes on to state, however, that “slipping and tripping are not inevitable, unless, of course, hazards are allowed to remain uncontrolled. Effective action can be taken to dramatically reduce slipping and tripping accidents.”

Most of these actions are simple and low cost (see box). But too many organisations are still falling down on basic organisational, planning and housekeeping issues, and missing the importance of human factors (such as distraction or fatigue) and worker involvement. Issuing slip-resistant footwear or putting up safety signs may seem like you are tackling the problem – and such controls have their place – but unless you tackle the causes further back in the chain, you will never achieve lasting improvements.      

Getting ‘Buy-in’

In reducing the likelihood of slips, trips and falls, staff training and engagement is crucial. First, people need to understand the consequences of incidents that can often seem insignificant or even humorous. Then they need to know where the hazards are and what they can do to help prevent incidents.

The HSE’s inspector guidance advises that “getting workforce ‘buy-in’ to initiatives to reduce slips and trips is crucial” and that to obtain long term reductions “attitudes and perceptions must change”. The guidance further notes: “Sensible measures should be taken to control and minimise risk, but personal responsibility and worker participation are also essential if these measures are to be effective.”

When it comes to informing and engaging employees, EssentialSkillz can help make the difference. Our Slips, Trips and Falls course sets out the practical ways employees can work with their employers to reduce the risk. But in tackling some of the HSE’s key barriers to improvement, our online training goes further. The newly updated course sets the context, dispels myths and outlines the sometimes devastating consequences of what we all too often dismiss as inevitable, or even humorous, incidents. Like all EssentialSkillz training, the course can also be customised to meet the specific needs of your workplace and staff.

Ten Practical Steps 

  • Design tasks to minimise potential leaks or spillages; fix any leaks from machinery or other equipment  immediately
  • Plan pedestrian routes to avoid potentially contaminated areas
  • Use the correct cleaning methods for the surface; don’t clean during busy times
  • Choose and maintain flooring carefully – if flooring gets loose, damaged or worn, repair or replace it
  • Look at the wider environment – ensure lighting is good and that any slopes or steps are easily visible
  • Always ensure walkways, stairs and work areas are clear of any obstructions or trailing cables
  • Select the right footwear for the environment and task
  • Think about people and organise work to avoid rushing, overcrowding or distractions
  • Provide and maintain the right equipment for any unavoidable work at height, and train staff in safe practices
  • Involve staff in task and safety decisions, such as choosing protective footwear or altering cleaning methods