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SME Owners: How Safe is Your Business?

Mar 27 2019

82% of occupational injuries and 90% of workplace fatalities happen in SME businesses in the EU.

These are disturbingly high numbers for what are considered ‘safer’ working environments compared to large and industrial organisations. The reason?

SMEs have tighter budgets than larger businesses and face greater financial insecurity.

And because threats to worker safety are less visible, directors would rather invest in operations and strategy than occupational health and safety management (OHS).

What they don’t realise is how detrimental this is for their employees’ health.

The Dangers of Turning a Blind Eye

Is the only thing protecting your employee a basic copy and paste health and safety policy? We understand why this would be the case. You only work in a small business so, really, the risk of incidents is low.

But as we’ve gathered from the stats, the opposite is true. Without appropriate health and safety measures in place, your employee’s safety is compromised. By that we mean:

  • Your employees aren’t receiving workplace health and safety training
  • As the director, you aren’t doing enough to reduce the risk of accidents, you haven’t had any health and safety training and you don’t know who to ask
  • There are no official OHS guidelines and procedures in place to follow to minimise the fallout of an incident

Not only does a lack of OHS management threaten the lives of your employees but it also jeopardises the life of your business because accidents can be very expensive.

The total costs of workplace self-reported injuries and ill health in 2016/17 was £15 billion, according to HSE.

Injury accounted for 35% of the total costs (£5.2 billion) while ill health came in at 65% (£9.7 billion).

If someone you employ has an accident within your business premises, that’s potentially going to cost you in sick days, compensation claims, other fees and loss of productivity. In other words, money you may not have to spare on an SME budget.

You could also be fined heavily for breaking the law.

Don’t be a Rule Breaker

As a business owner, there are certain health and safety regulations you must adhere to. If you don’t, you’re violating the law. Get caught and you may have to pay a fine and hourly Fee for Intervention rates to the HSE.

A recent study on how much health and safety violations cost businesses found that:

“The average cost of health and safety fines far outstripped the cost of compliance. Businesses paid an average of £115,440 in fines after being found guilty of health and safety breaches in 2016.”

So, what laws must you adhere to? Generally, a lot of small businesses don’t realise that:

  • Once you employ more than four people, you must appoint someone to assist you with your health and safety responsibilities. This can be a person within your business with suitable training, knowledge and experience, or an external provider.
  • Unlike employment law, health and safety law is criminal law, which means you are not able to insure against fines.
  • If you use a serviced office or have a leased space, you are still legally responsible for the health, safety, office fire arrangements and wellbeing of your employees.
  • You must display a health and safety law poster where your workers can easily read it, or provide each worker with a copy of the equivalent pocket card.

It might seem daunting at first, but getting on top of your business’ health and safety doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. 

Outsourcing Professional Help

Outsource your business’ health and safety advice to a competent and proactive consultancy and you’ll benefit from substantial cost savings now and in the future:

  • Save money by outsourcing instead of hiring a permanent OHS employee
  • Gain the support you need when you need it
  • Avoid fines from breaking OHS laws
  • Minimise the expense of accidents by reducing risk
  • Reduce employee absence and turnover rates
  • Improve your company reputation bolstering business

At Vita Safety, we act as your competent health and safety adviser, ensuring you have the most up to date advice, policies and procedures for health, safety and fire risk management.

We also provide training and coaching so that safety, health and wellbeing is embedded in what you and your leaders do. Here’s a complete list of the services we provide which can be tailored to your business needs:

  • Company-specific health and safety policy, procedures and documentation
  • Health and safety compliance audits and reviews
  • Bespoke and accredited training for teams, managers and directors
  • On-demand email and phone advisory support
  • Assistance with accident and incident reporting and investigation
  • Insurance survey and risk management support
  • Property fire and general commercial landlord risk management services
  • Multi-site commercial and residential fire and health and safety compliance services
  • The backing of our certified quality management and customer service guarantee

Our support guarantee includes:

  • No tie-in to long term contracts – contract length agreed with you.
  • Named team contacts, personal service and quality customer care
  • Options to use cloud based document sharing and automatic document updates

Make the wellbeing of your employees part of a people-centred business strategy.
It’ll help you ensure your employee are healthier and happier, improving their lives and those of their families.

You also become an employer of choice. To attract and retain the best employees you need to ensure that your company’s work ethos, values and physical environment reflect your brand. An effective safety, health and wellbeing strategy is your ticket to achieving this.

For a friendly chat about our range of small business service options, please contact [email protected] or call on 01614865020. We can’t wait to hear from you.