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5 of the Safest Countries to Work in This Year

April 2024


In recent years, the introduction of good health and safety practices in the workplace has become a worldwide initiative, with all nations and cultures striving to make a positive, lasting impact on workplace safety.

Health and safety systems differ from place to place for recording, reporting, and enforcement. Another thing to consider is that the types of industries available in different countries vary wildly, and therefore, statistics can also vary based on this factor.


Why Is International Comparison of Health and Safety Incident Rates Important?

If you’re an individual looking to travel for your work, you might be concerned about whether the safety standards will keep you safe, happy, and healthy. Examining standardised incident rates from other countries can also be useful for our industry, as it allows us to get a bigger picture of the health and safety industry worldwide and identify areas that need improvement.

Standardised incident rates are used to compare the number of workplace accidents in a specific place, industry, or organisation to the standard population. They help gauge relative safety performance by accounting for differences in size population and exposure to risks.

Finally, when comparing workplace incident statistics, it’s also important to remember that culture has a large impact on how incidents are reported and dealt with, as attitudes towards workplace safety and injuries can differ depending on cultural norms, etc.


What Are Some of the Safest Countries to Work In?

United Kingdom

Comparatively speaking, the United Kingdom is one of the safest countries in the world. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reported that the standardised incident rate per 100,000 workers in the United Kingdom was 0.61, which indicates there was a lower number of accidents than predicted across the previous year. Additionally, only 1 per cent of workers had a workplace accident that resulted in time off work. The UK has made significant progress in reducing workplace accidents through stringent health and safety laws, effective enforcement, and awareness campaigns.


It’s unsurprising that the HSE have chosen to host their Europe Congress in the Netherlands in 2024. With an incident rate of 0.77 and only 0.8 per cent of the workforce needing to take time from work because of workplace injury, the Netherlands has made considerable strides in health and safety. This comes as a result of increased occupational health and safety regulations, comprehensive training and education and regular inspections by government agencies.


Germany’s reputation for engineering excellence extends to workplace safety. They boast low incident rates of 0.55 in the workplace due to their stringent regulations and standards governing workplace safety. Regulations are steadfastly enforced by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and the German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV). Germany also has a comprehensive workers' compensation system that provides financial support to employees in case of work-related accidents or illnesses.


Ireland stands at the peak of low workplace accident rates, with an incident rate of just 0.45. Similarly to all the other countries on this list, Ireland has in-depth workplace health and safety laws enforced by their own regulatory agency, the Health and Safety Authority (HSA). Ireland also has a tradition of strong social dialogue involving employers, trade unions and government agencies. Collaboration on safety issues is one of the key factors in building a good culture of health and safety.

Another reason behind the low incident rate in Ireland is its public campaigns. The HSA runs the Safety Reps Initiative, where designated safety representatives in workplaces receive training and support to proactively address safety concerns. This increased employee participation on top of the tradition of strong dialogue.


Finland consistently reports lower workplace incident rates of 0.56 compared to other European countries. The proactive approach to prevention and robust regulations, such as their National Occupational Safety and Health Policy known as TYÖPA, has a big impact on compliance across all sectors.

In contrast, Finland has one of the highest percentages of workers who had a workplace accident resulting in time off work in the previous twelve months: 3.2%. However, this data could represent a difference in cultural attitudes towards time away from work for recovery. This could indicate that Finnish employers are more generous and encourage workers to take time off after workplace accidents without drawbacks, as insurance coverage for workplace accidents in Finland is very comprehensive.

More generally, Finland as a culture has a very strong focus on general health and well-being outside of the workplace and they have been known for having one of the highest life expectancies in the world. Finland outperforms most countries in education, work-life balance, environmental quality, social connections, safety and life satisfaction. Additionally, there is a strong sense of community in Finland, where 96% of people believe that they know someone they can rely on in time of need. It wouldn’t be a far stretch to say that this could overlap in the workplace, where employees might feel more able to report potential risks and hazards. A lot of the Nordic nations tend to hold similar holistic beliefs, which is why they typically perform well where health and safety are concerned.


What Can We Learn from Different Countries About Health and Safety?

The key throughline of the above countries that assists with the prevention of workplace accidents is thorough legislation and regulations as well as building trust and collaboration amongst the workforce. In addition to this, employers in these countries place a high emphasis on properly training employees for this role by enrolling them on internationally renowned courses like the IOSH Managing Safely.

Created by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), the IOSH Managing Safely is recognised the world over for its versatility across all sectors and industries, no matter where you work. It’s designed specifically for line managers, supervisors, and anyone else in a leadership position.

To put it simply, the IOSH Managing Safely is for everyone, everywhere. For this reason, we chose to diversify the available languages for our industry-leading version of the course, which features innovative learning methods, interactive elements and engaging video content.

Join the 60,000 people who earned their IOSH Managing Safely qualification in 2023 below and begin creating a safer workplace for your workforce.



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