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Making the Case for Health and Wellbeing

There remains a case to invest more in health and wellbeing in order to produce savings for the rail industry.

RSSB conducted a costs of impaired health study in 2014 that informed the first edition of Leading Health and Safety on Britain’s Railway. RSSB has now finished an update to the report. The updated report provides a similar picture of the costs of impaired health in rail as the study did in 2014. This should be seen as a snapshot of industry costs from a small sample size of participating organisations.

Sickness absence was again calculated using the Lost Time Rate (LTR) which is the percentage of total time lost to sickness absence. In 2019 it is believed that the LTR across the rail sector reached approximately 4.28%, in comparison the LTR rate for the UK workforce in general is 2.6%.   The 4.28% figure will again vary between different rail operators and amongst job families within a rail company. 

The 4.28% LTR translates into 1,346,659 days lost to sickness. 

  • Using this LTR we estimate the cost of direct and indirect sickness absence to be approximately £356M per annum.
  • The costs of presenteeism were again considered. The estimated costs of presenteeism were thought to be £534M per annum. 
  • Total annual costs of impaired health which combine sickness absence and presenteeism costs were in the region of £889M.

Any variation between the two reports could easily be attributed to sample size and are within margins of error. It is reasonable to suggest that the costs of absence in rail has not improved since 2014. Although based upon research, presenteeism figures are directly taken from reported absence and therefore reflect this figure.

In response to these findings RSSB has developed the Cost Benefit Analysis Tool. This works out the financial costs of ill health for organisations, and how much they could save if they introduced different health services.

Read our advice below on making business cases for improving health and wellbeing in your organisation.

Find support tools here for Taking Safe Decisions.

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