Research released last week revealed that a shocking two thirds of managers in small firms are knowingly breaking health and safety regulations on a weekly basis.

The survey, by business support services provider ELAS, researched the views of 1,000 managers in small firms throughout the UK. In particular it revealed an astounding 88 per cent admitted to having broken at least one health and safety regulation in the past week. Of these, three quarters said they had knowingly broken the rules.

Examples of those regulations that were breached include:

  • 51 per cent admitted heavy lifting without following the correct procedures
  • 49 per cent used electrical equipment that hadn’t been safety tested
  • 44 per cent left a slip, trip or fall obstacle on the workplace floor
  • 26 per cent risked falling from height by balancing on the edge of a table or chair to change a lightbulb or reach a high shelf.

These stats should act as a wake up call to managers, reminding businesses that health and safety should always be at the forefront of their minds and employees should not be encouraged to ignore health and safety requirements.

Recent reports suggest that upcoming reforms to UK health and safety regulations will reduce red tape for small businesses. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has even reported that a reduction in red tape will cut the number of inspections by a third, but with small businesses already regularly breaching health and safety regulations, what does this mean for the safety of employees?

As I discussed in my recent blog, whilst it is a welcome move to reduce unnecessary regulation, a certain amount is still essential to ensure the safety and wellbeing of businesses, their customers and their employees. This survey only emphasises the importance of effective health and safety practises, which are key to lowering accident and death rates.

However, the possibility of making the process simpler means it is likely that small businesses will find it easier to follow the correct health and safety procedures. If the rules are simpler to interpret and implement they will be less of a burden to businesses, and less excuse for those who knowingly break the rules.