FSB News Release
Issue date: Tuesday 2 October 2007
Health and Safety rules can hold economy back, says FSB
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has today warned that the Health and Safety regime can hold back the growth of small businesses that would otherwise be able create more jobs. Small firms employ sixty per cent of the private sector workforce and therefore this burden is stifling the UK economy.
This warning comes as the FSB publishes a report based on a survey of small firms examining the impact of Health and Safety legislation.
The report examines the burden of Health and Safety legislation and compliance, the impact of the new Fire Safety Order regime, the nature of Health and Safety inspections, Employers' Liability Compulsory Insurance and health in the workplace, including the requirements of business from the NHS.
The report is based on a survey that found that 72% of small firms believed that the administrative requirements of Health and Safety legislation are more bureaucratic than they were five years ago.
Mary Boughton MBE, FSB Health and Safety Chairman, said:
“No-one is asking for the Government to dilute Health and Safety protection for workers. However, we need common sense to prevail in Westminster and Whitehall.
“Our report has uncovered obstacles to small firms expanding and hiring new staff. It also has proposals to help the Government reduce unemployment by eliminating these obstacles and recommends ways of improving the situation for both employers and employees.
“A simple, jargon-free, Health and Safety system will make it easier for small businesses to comply. This will increase worker protection and free up business owners to grow their firm and create more jobs. That would be a winning situation for everyone. Our report makes a contribution to such an improved system. We look forward to working with politicians of all parties to achieve this.”
Major recommendations in the report include:
Health and Safety legislation should take micro and small businesses into account – too often such laws are written with large firms, who have dedicated departments to deal with administration, in mind.
Guidance for business should be straightforward and jargon-free and be available from a central, easily accessible source.
The Government should set a national standard for fire safety inspections so that fire services offer a consistent, nationwide, approach. Training for the fire services about dealing with businesses should also be available.
Health and Safety inspectors should be trained to understand the nature and needs of small firms, to prevent inspections costing businesses custom during the inspection.
Insurance companies should work with small firms to ensure that they take a business’ Health and Safety record into account when setting premiums.
NHS staff should be trained in the needs of business and more should be done to provide 'fit' notes (to set out what an employee is well enough to do) rather than sick notes (which can keep employees out of the workplace for longer than is appropriate). Improvements in addressing absenteeism are vital to boost productivity in the UK economy.
Notes to Editors:
1. The FSB survey covered 1,700 small businesses, broadly representative of the UK business profile as a whole, in June 2007. The report can be downloaded at http://www.fsb.org.uk/documentstore/filedetails.asp?ID=383.
2. Small businesses employ 58% of the private sector workforce, contribute 50% of UK GDP and make up more than 99% of all UK businesses.
3. The FSB is Britain's biggest business organisation with over 210,000 members. It exists to protect and promote the interests of the self-employed, and all those who run their own business. More information is available at www.fsb.org.uk.
4. More information on health in the workplace and small businesses can be found in the FSB’s “Health Matters” report, which is available at http://www.fsb.org.uk/documentstore/filedetails.asp?ID=367
For interviews with FSB Chief Spokesman Stephen Alambritis or other senior FSB personnel please contact the FSB Press Office.
FSB Press Office
Matthew Knowles: 020 7592 8113 / 07917 628991
Simon Briault: 020 7592 8128 / 07917 628998
Belinda Webb: 020 7592 8121 / 07825 125 695
For regional FSB contacts please go to www.fsb.org.uk/regions