Health and safety key topics

Addressing key issues within the health and safety sector. 

Danger high voltage sign


The IET’s Health and Safety Group is currently working on two issues; occupational health awareness, and the health and safety requirements of the IET’s membership.

Occupational health

Health is often treated as the poor relation in health and safety.  Most engineers pay attention to the safety risks in their work, but perhaps have very little idea about the hazards and costs (both human and financial) associated with health risks.

Every week in the UK about a million people take sick leave. For most it’s just a case of a couple of days before getting back to business as usual. However, around three thousand will still be sick in six months time and, of those an estimated 80% will not work again in the next five years.

The bad news doesn't end there. In an apparently healthy workforce of 1000 people, studies suggest that between 35 and 50 will be absent, 150-200 will be suffering from a common mental disorder, and as many as 100 will have an alcohol or drug-related problem. Around 90 will suffer from migraines and 20 from diabetes.

The potential risks to business from these problems are obvious. Government estimates put the cost of disability-related payments to the UK economy at around £35bn a year. Common mental disorders such as anxiety and depression have now exceeded back pain as the commonest cause of medical certification for absence from work. The cost to UK business of absence, ill-health retirement, insurance and other direct and indirect costs is estimated to be at least £11bn a year.

In addition to reducing their personal exposure to occupational health risks, engineers have a key responsibility to reduce the occupational health risks posed by their designs and activities.  Similarly, managers need to pay as much attention to managing health risks as they do to safety risks. The group aims to bring the issues to the attention of IET members and to provide easy access to the wealth of occupational health advice available. 

Health and safety requirements

The group is keenly aware of the pressures felt by practicing engineers and would like to do all that it can to assist the IET’s members to meet their health and safety responsibilities. The group invites members to contact them regarding what information they would like the IET to provide to help them fulfil their health and safety responsibilities. Please contact the Health and Safety Group:


Please note that the group cannot offer advice on particular health and safety problems.  

Members with such questions are advised to contact the IET’s Connect service.