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  7. How a Booming Economy Can Be Bad for Health and Safety

How a Booming Economy Can Be Bad for Health and Safety

A rising and increasing bar chart

Even though it is a legal requirement, the costs involved with health and safety training can often be quite prohibitive for companies and individuals alike, especially for a NEBOSH General Certificate or NEBOSH Diploma for example usually costing a four figure sum to take. So it would be understandable to think that in a booming economy health and safety provision would increase and accidents would be reduced, and subsequently when times are hard that health and safety may fall by the wayside.

In fact, the opposite is usually true. When the economy is booming and times are good, businesses will usually have more money available to spend on safety training but will be so busy fulfilling orders or providing purchased services that they will not be able to let employees be away from the workplace in order to attend the training sessions. Not only will there be a lack of time available to have workers absent, but management may also be putting workers under pressure to fulfil customer orders and meet output targets, which can cause them to rush activities or even circumvent health and safety control measures. Rushing or by-passing controls will greatly increase the chances of workers suffering an accident or injury in the workplace, and it is important that management do not allow health and safety procedures to slip during busy periods or, even worse, actively encourage it for the sake of fulfilling customer demand.

Of course commercial businesses will want to capitalise on strong demand, but health and safety cannot be seen as a luxury commodity for when times are good or something to do in spare time when there are quiet phases. It needs to be integrated into the working time of employees whether the company is experiencing a busy period or not, and should to be maintained and adhered to at all times. Having an accident occur in the workplace which needs to be investigated will end up costing you far more time than any saved by rushing work along faster.

How Increased Demand Can Put Worker Health and Safety at Risk

Although increased demand is a positive occurrence for any commercial business, it can also result in added pressures and dangers. This can put the health and safety of workers and other individuals at risk, with an increased potential for accidents to take place. An organisation therefore needs to ensure that it responds to increases in demand with appropriate health and safety responses.

Increased demand for products will result in a necessity for faster production and/or longer production hours. Either way, this will place greater strain on both machinery and people, and whenever strain increases, so too does the potential for incidents and negative impacts upon safety, health and well-being.

Faster Production

When production needs to speed up in order to increase output, this will often mean that machinery needs to operate more quickly than usual. This will increase wear, as well as generating heat. Not only can there be a danger to health if the machine breaks and pieces start flying off in all directions, but the heat generated will raise the potential for fires or explosions, especially if the machines are run at speeds which are over and above the recommended maximum operating limits.

Operating machinery or completing tasks quicker will also increase the likelihood of the human user making a mistake which can cause an injury to themselves or others. Operating and using tools and equipment is dangerous at the best of times, but doing so under pressure and even more quickly can increase the potential for injuries. An example of a personal injury includes those in the textile industry who have to use sewing machines more quickly than normal in order to meet upcoming production deadlines. Workers in some industries may need to perform certain actions which can affect others in the building, such as shutting off machines/processes at particular times or monitoring critical levels. If they make a mistake with work equipment due to the stress or speed of the faster production then there is potential for serious injuries or death both to themselves and all of those around.

Longer Production

For some machinery it may not be possible to alter the speed at which it operates, and so in this scenario it will need to be in use for longer periods than normal in order to produce the extra demand required. This too has implications for the health and safety of the operatives.

For starters, running machinery for longer can also produce the same heat and wear issues that can come with running it faster. Therefore the same considerations and safeguards need to be employed.

Longer production also places a greater burden upon people if they need to work more hours. Whilst some may appreciate the overtime payments, working longer hours can increase tiredness and therefore the probability of mistakes. As we know, tired workers whose concentration is wavering can make mistakes that put their own health and safety at risk, as well as endangering the health and well-being of their colleagues and nearby members of the public.


There will be times when production and output needs to be ramped up in order to satisfy increased demand and large orders which come in from time to time. Whilst it may initially cause delight due to the monetary value involved, it is imperative that managers take into account the possible implications on the health and safety of workers and nearby members of the public.

Any change to production or processes will likely need additional health and safety actions to be taken such as increased monitoring and more frequent maintenance to ensure the safety of everyone, not to mention keeping the machines running smoothly! Managers may also need to evaluate staffing levels, as additional temporary workers may need to be hired to avoid putting too much strain on current employees. This will obviously have health and safety implications also, as these new workers will require proper health and safety training and induction sessions.

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