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THE MOST COMMON HEALTH AND SAFETY COMPLAINTS ABOUT THE WORKPLACE REVEALED

Employers are required by law to tell workers about health and safety, including the work they do, how risks are controlled and the best ways of providing information. A recent survey we conducted has revealed the most frequent health and safety complaints that arise when employers fail to meet this responsibility.

We surveyed a total of 900 UK workers about their physical workplace environments, finding that although the majority of employees finding their workplace to be safe, more can be done by employers in their approach to health and safety complaints.

A quarter of UK workers do not know how to make a health and safety complaint

According to the survey, a quarter of workers in the UK are not familiar with the procedure to make a complaint relating to health and safety risks in the workplace, despite it being a legal requirement.

As part of HSE regulations, an approved health and safety law poster must always be on display in the workplace, or each worker must be provided with the equivalent in leaflet form.

One-in-six workers have made a health and safety complaint about their workplace

The survey also revealed that 17% of UK workers have made complaints about their workplace, with the most common complaints raised being about the air quality and temperature (42%), followed by the physical workplace (24%) and cleanliness (20%).

We also requested data on the number of complaints made to the HSE about working conditions between 2016 and 2019, and our analysis found that the most frequent subject of complaints was toilet facilities, with a total of 2,987 complaints.

A different survey conducted by Bunkabin in 2019 found that 47% of workers think their employers could do more to improve their toilet and shower facilities, while 28% said their workplaces feature toilets that are not separate and lockable, and 8% work in locations with no toilet facilities at all.

Other common reasons for raising complaints to the HSE included excessive noise (898), lack of canteen/restaurant/eating facilities (471), and damp (463). To read more about the complaints to the HSE, read this blog post.

The majority of complaints are not taken seriously

Of the survey respondents who made a complaint about their workplace, the most people (38%) said they felt it was not taken seriously, while 15% said it was completely ignored. Only 18% said that their complaint was listened to carefully and taken very seriously.

In relation to the action taken following their complaint, 31% said it was not very well addressed, i.e. the actions taken to address the complaint were minimal or insufficient, while 20% said their complaint was completely ignored and no action was taken.

Workers most concerned about the temperature in the workplace

When asked to rate the importance of certain physical factors in a work environment from one to nine, the majority of participants chose comfortable temperatures as the greatest concern (42%). This was followed by air quality (16%) and comfortable acoustics and lighting, both receiving 12% of the vote.

The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 place a legal obligation on employers to provide a ‘reasonable’ temperature in an indoor workplace. It is advised that the minimum temperature in a workplace should be 16℃; however, this can be 13℃ for those where the work involves rigorous physical effort.

It is not possible to provide a figure for the maximum temperature in a workplace, as various circumstances mean it cannot be controlled, for example, in glass-works or a foundry. In such environments, appropriate measures should be put in place to make it possible to work safely.

When ranking their greatest concerns, workers expressed that they are least concerned with having a connection to nature in the workplace (32%), as well as fitness facilities (28%) and tech-based health tools (20%).

The full survey data

In your opinion, is your workplace a safe working environment?

Answer Choices Responses
Yes 90.13% (767)
No 6.11% (52)
Don't know 3.76% (32)

Rank the following workplace perks from 1-9 in terms of importance to you, with 1 being the most important

Comfortable acoustics

Healthy food options

Fitness facilities

Tech-based health tools

Air quality

Comfortable lighting

Water quality

Comfortable temperatures

Connection to nature

1

12.38% (89)

3.76% (27)

2.92% (21)

2.78% (20)

16.27% (117)

12.24% (88)

4.59% (33)

41.86% (301)

3.20% (23)

2

11.40% (82)

9.32% (67)

1.67% (12)

2.09% (15)

17.94% (129)

24.76% (178)

12.38% (89)

17.80% (128)

2.64% (19)

3

12.80% (92)

6.54% (47)

7.65% (55)

2.78% (20)

21.70% (156)

22.11% (159)

12.10% (87)

11.68% (84)

2.64% (19)

4

14.46% (104)

7.23% (52)

4.31% (31)

12.66% (91)

15.02% (108)

13.21% (95)

18.64% (134)

8.07% (58)

6.40% (46)

5

18.92% (136)

11.96% (86)

5.98% (43)

6.40% (46)

13.77% (99)

7.37% (53)

20.17% (145)

5.01% (36)

10.43% (75)

6

12.80% (92)

21.84% (157)

7.93% (57)

12.66% (91)

8.48% (61)

10.71% (77)

7.23% (52)

1.95% (14)

16.41% (118)

7

8.21% (59)

20.58% (148)

16.55% (119)

16.27% (117)

3.34% (24)

5.15% (37)

15.02% (108)

1.67% (12)

13.21% (95)

8

5.42% (39)

11.68% (84)

25.45% (184)

24.06% (173)

2.36% (17)

2.92% (21)

6.40% (46)

9.04% (65)

12.66% (91)

9

3.62% (26)

7.09% (51)

27.54% (198)

20.31% (146)

1.11% (8)

1.53% (11)

3.48% (25)

2.92% (21)

32.41% (233)

Score

5.64

4.37

3.09

3.37

6.51

6.45

5.28

7.08

3.22

Is your Work building in good repair?


Answer Choices

Responses

Yes

85.81% (617)

No

14.19% (102)

What is it about your work building that is in disrepair?

Answer Choices

Responses

Damp

26.73% (27)

Poorly fitted windows

39.60% (40)

Uneven flooring

38.61% (39)

Broken lighting

25.74% (26)

Broken fixtures and fittings

50.50% (51)

Paint coming off walls

50.50% (51)

Other

15.84% (16

How often do you find obstructions on the floor, in corridors and on the stairs?


Answer Choices

Responses

Always

4.35% (31)

Usually

7.44% (53)

Sometimes

22.75% (162)

Rarely

42.42% (302)

Never

23.03% (164)

How would you describe the temperature in your workplace? The advised temperature is at least 16°C, or 13°C for strenuous work.


Answer Choices

Responses

Too hot

18.12% (129)

Correct temperature

62.64% (446)

Too cold

19.24% (137)

Does your workplace have good ventilation?

Answer Choices

Responses

Yes

71.07% (506)

No

28.93% (206)

How is ventilation provided in your workplace?

Answer Choices

Responses

Both naturally and with an air system

32.87% (234)

Just naturally

44.80% (319)

Just through an air system

22.33% (159)

Do you have natural light in your workplace?

Answer Choices

Responses

Yes

80.34% (572)

No

19.66% (140)

Does your personal workspace have adequate lighting?

Answer Choices

Responses

Yes

90.17% (642)

No

9.83% (70)

Do other areas (e.g. corridors and staircases) have adequate lighting?

Answer Choices

Responses

Yes

91.43% (651)

No

8.57% (61)

How clean are the floors and stairs in your workplace?

Answer Choices

Responses

Very clean

26.12% (186)

Clean

43.12% (307)

Adequate

23.46% (167)

Dirty

5.06% (36)

Very dirty

2.25% (16)

How clean are the premises, furniture and fittings in your workplace?

Answer Choices

Responses

Very clean

24.02% (171)

Clean

43.26% (308)

Adequate

25.84% (184)

Dirty

5.62% (40)

Very dirty

1.26% (9)

How clean are the toilets in your workplace?

Answer Choices

Responses

Very clean

27.67% (197)

Clean

41.01% (292)

Adequate

23.46% (167)

Dirty

5.48% (39)

Very dirty

2.39% (17)

How clean is the area in which you take breaks and eat meals in your workplace?

Answer Choices

Responses

Very clean

26.40% (188)

Clean

45.51% (324)

Adequate

22.61% (161)

Dirty

3.93% (28)

Very dirty

1.54% (11)

Have you ever made a complaint to the management about your workplace environment?

Answer Choices

Responses

Yes

16.85% (120)

No

83.15% (592)

What was your complaint regarding?

Answer Choices

Responses

The physical workplace

23.53% (28)

Air and temperature

42.02% (50)

Lighting

7.56% (9)

Cleanliness

20.17% (24)

Other

6.72% (8)

How well do you feel your complaint was handled by your managers?

Answer Choices

Responses

Very well - my complaint was listened to carefully and taken very seriously

17.65% (21)

Well - my complaint was acknowledged sufficiently

28.57% (34)

Not very well - my complaint was received, but not taken very seriously

38.66% (46)

Not at all well - my complaint was completely ignored

15.13% (18)

How well do you feel your complaint was addressed?

Answer Choices

Responses

Very well - action was taken that addressed my complaint very effectively

18.49% (22)

Well - action was taken that addressed my complaint to some degree

30.25% (36)

Not very well - the actions taken to address my complaint have been minimal or insufficient

31.09% (37)

Not at all well - my complaint was ignored and no action was taken

20.17% (24)

From your experience of making a complaint, do you feel confident that you could make another in the future?

Answer Choices

Responses

Yes

61.34% (73)

No

38.66% (46)

Do you know the procedure to make a complaint about your workplace?

Answer Choices

Responses

Yes

75.30% (445)

No

24.70% (146)

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