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SME Health and Safety Inadequacies

By Head of Sheffield, Personal Injury

The results from a recent survey by a UK Health and Safety Law Consultancy, Protecting.co.uk, shows that nearly 25% of small and medium sized business owners confessed they have nobody in their company with adequate health and safety training.

The fact that almost a third of small and medium sized business (SME’s) have experienced a workplace accident, which could have been avoided with proper training and equipment, in the last 12 months, shows that much more has to be done to address the lack of appropriate health and safety planning and assessment in workplaces to ensure the safety and wellbeing of millions of workers across the UK.

The fact that far too many SME companies take risks and endanger their workforce by not training staff correctly sadly results in a significant number of needless deaths and serious injuries. The economic downturn obviously applies pressure on budgets and staff headcounts, but what the figures appear to show is that corners are being cut when it comes to workplace safety at alarming levels.

The recently published Health and Safety Executive (HSE) figures reveal that the cost to British businesses of workplace accidents and illnesses is more than £14billion a year. To put this into perspective, this is almost £500 for every single one of the 29 million people currently employed in the UK.

As the poll organisers explain, for a small company of say 20 employees, this is a potential loss of £10,000 per annum. Surely it would be more cost effective for money to be spent on training and safety equipment to prevent workplace accidents occurring in the first place?

The fact that SME companies are playing with the lives of their workers by failing to implement proper planning and train competent staff in regard to health and safety positions, is a worry for all.

The Health and Safety Executive and the Courts need to be able to ensure that stiffer sentences and fines are handed out to those companies with poor health and safety records to act as an effective deterrent.

Matthew Tomlinson is a Senior Personal Injury Solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers specialising in work accident claims.

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