Small businesses struggling to comply with health and safety yet control costs
FPB research shows that more than half of respondents (56%) struggle to comply with health and safety laws in order to improve safety for their staff, while a quarter (25%) said they feared being prosecuted by the HSE. The FPB has joined forces with Cardinus, a subsidiary of THB Group, in order to help smaller employers comply yet control costs.
The FPB’s Chief Executive, Phil Orford, believes that minimising health and safety costs could make it easier for small businesses, hit by declining markets, credit restrictions and poor payment by bigger companies, to comply with the legislation.
“Complying with health and safety legislation is a costly, time-consuming exercise. Our research has shown that small business owners spend, on average, 14 hours per month filling-in forms specifically relating to health and safety,” said Mr Orford. “Along with the FPB’s Health and Safety Guide, smaller employers now have online access to an online training and distance learning resource, providing them with the support they need to protect staff yet control costs – more important than ever in the current economic climate.”
The HSE’s new strategy is being published on 3 June 2009. It will insist that business owners and employees work together more closely on improving health and safety and risk assessment. In partnership with the FPB, Cardinus provides businesses with up to 250 employees access to a range of online health and safety resources and risk assessment training.
“While the focus has always been on larger clients we have increasingly been asked to deliver solutions to smaller firms, particularly by insurance brokers and insurers,” explained Andy Hawkes, CEO of Cardinus. “To meet this demand we have built a web-based proposition, www.sme.cardinus.com, that provides self help advice, easy to use risk assessment tools all supported by our onsite consultancy services.”
He added: “These are challenging times for all businesses but by creating a one stop shop we can deliver low-cost solutions for regulatory necessity and enable our clients to focus on their main business goals.”
According to the FPB’s research, a fifth of small business owners surveyed (19%) use internet support in conjunction with its health and safety guide. In addition, 37% of respondents believe complying with health and safety legislation is important in order to improve working practices and procedures, and a fifth (19%) for peace of mind that their insurance policies are valid.
On Friday, 16 January, the Health and Safety Offences Act 2008 came into force. The effect of the Act is to:
· Raise the maximum fine which may be imposed in the lower courts to £20,000 for most health and safety offences.
· Give both the higher and lower courts the option to imprison employers for a greater number of offences.
· Make certain offences, which previously could only be tried in the lower courts, triable in both the lower and higher courts.
The FPB‘s Health and Safety Adviser, Martin Mulholland, said health and safety breaches are now being treated as seriously as other criminal offences. He urged small businesses to take health and safety seriously.
“For those companies which are already committing sufficient resources to ensuring their operations are undertaken in ways that are safe, and without risk to the health and safety of their employees and others who may be affected, there should be no undue concern over the impact that the new Act will have on their businesses,” said Mr Mulholland.
The resources provided by the FPB are designed to help small businesses put in place thorough health and safety policies and procedures without breaking the bank. For more information call the FPB on 0845 130 1722, or visit www.fpb.org. Alternatively, call Cardinus on 01342 301 639, or visit www.sme.cardinus.com
Health and saftey figures: According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), key employment-related figures for 2007/08 were:
· 2.1 million people suffered an illness they believed was caused or made worse by their current or previous work.
· 229 workers were killed at work, a rate of 0.8 per 100,000 workers.
· 136,771 other injuries to employees were reported, a rate of 517.9 per 100,000 employees.
· 34 million days were lost overall (1.4 days per worker), 28 million due to work-related ill-health and 6 million due to workplace injuries
· The estimated annual cost of work-related accidents and ill health is £20 billion (around 2% of the UK’s GDP)