Health and safety laws ‘restrict businesses’

Small businesses find complying with health and safety laws time consuming and costly, with some worried they will be prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive.

Research carried out by the Forum for Private Business (FPB) states 56 per cent of companies adhere to health and safety legislation but a quarter are concerned about action from the regulatory body.

Phil Orford, chief executive of the FPB, says many companies find adhering to the laws a costly, time-consuming exercise, taking many small business owners an average of 14 hours a week to fill out forms.

Despite the cost of meeting the regulatory requirements, many businesses will not cut their health and safety spending, with a recent survey from the British Safety Council finding firms would rather reduce their bosses’ bonuses.

However, the annual survey also revealed a quarter of those questioned could not name the three main safety laws and one in 12 employees feels pressure from their boss to take risks in the workplace.

Awareness of health and safety at work was raised following amends to legislation in January which raised the maximum fine for businesses to £20,000 and means employers can now be imprisoned for many offences.

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