Health and Safety Warning for Small Businesses

By: Andrew Regan

A significant number of small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are not keeping their health and safety records up to date, it has been claimed - meaning many are in breach of standards.

According to Lisa Fowlie, president of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), small businesses in general are not fully au fait with health and safety guidelines and regulations, and often view them in a negative light.

Rather than being seen an attempt to improve standards in businesses, she said, too often SMBs see health and safety legislation as being detrimental to their cause.

However, Ms Fowlie has suggested that applying health and safety law is not only "very easy to do", but also confers positive benefits. She admitted, though, that these are facts all too often lost on small businesses.

"It's very difficult to get the message across to small businesses, because by their nature they have got very few people [so there's an issue] of who actually takes the role on... People think that you have to have a huge amount of red tape, and that if you start on [health and safety procedures] then it's going to stop them operating," she commented.

"Whereas in actual fact, a lot of small businesses are very low risk and so the actual implementation is very reasonable and very easy to do. There's a lack of understanding quite often.

"Getting health and safety into businesses is not onerous, it's actually helping them to keep best practice and keep the business up and running and operating," Ms Fowlie continued.

"Good health and safety practice actually generates good business practice."

Ms Fowlie went on to warn small firms that even if they are still of the opinion that health and safety procedures are an unwanted distraction, they should still do all they can to ensure they are fully compliant with the law - because if they don't, the Health and Safety Executive or the local authorities will be on their backs.

In order to reduce the burden of red tape while ensuring that they remain on the right side of the law, Ms Fowlie advised firms to keep things simple.

"You don't want overkill; you don't want masses and masses of files if you don't need them," she said.

"You want to put what we call sensible risk management in, so that they can continue with what they're doing, rather than anything that stops them doing it."

Disclaimer:

This article has been written for information and interest purposes only. The information contained within this article is the opinion of the author only, and should not be construed as advice or used to make financial decisions. Expert financial advice should always be sought and any links contained within this article are included for information purposes only.

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