A recent study of
data from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and a survey of UK workers have
revealed the most frequent health and safety complaints.
The survey of almost 1,000 workers in the UK found that 17%
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%).
Data on the number of complaints made to the HSE over working conditions between
2016 and 2019 was requested and analysed by on-site accommodation provider
Bunkabin. Over the three-year period, the most frequent subject of a complaint
was toilet facilities, with a total of 2,987 complaints.
Other common reasons for raising complaints to the HSE included excessive noise
(898), lack of canteen/restaurant/eating facilities (471), and damp (463).
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
Of those who made a complaint, the majority (38%) feel 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 their
complaint 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.
Luke Rothwell, Director at Bunkabin, said: “Employees are often the best people
to provide information on risks in the workplace, and employers should ensure
that workers understand how to raise concerns about the workplace and feel
confident to do so. Involving them in making decisions shows that health and
safety is taken seriously.
“It is shocking to think that the majority of complaints from workers are
either falling on deaf ears or being inadequately responded to. Employers have
a legal duty to ensure that workers are kept safe while carrying out their
duties, and is one of the most basic and essential requirements for any
“For many industries, such as construction and agriculture, workers are often
working unsupervised in hazardous conditions, so if a worker fears for their
own safety, they should feel confident to raise their concerns with their
The survey also revealed that 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.
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. As part of the regulations, an HSE-approved law poster
must always be on display, or each worker must be provided with the equivalent
information in leaflet form.