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Health and safety should be treated seriously by smaller firms

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Small businesses are being urged to be mindful of complying with the rules on health and safety ahead of the publication of a new official strategy.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is due to issue its new strategy for the workplace on 3 June. The document is likely to insist that business owners and employees work together more closely on improving health and safety and risk assessment.

Already in force is the Health and Safety Offences Act 2008 which increased the maximum fine which may be imposed in the lower courts to £20,000 for most health and safety offences. It also gave both the higher and lower courts the option to imprison employers for a greater number of offences.

As a result, Martin Mulholland, an adviser at the Forum of Private Business (FPB), said that small businesses need to take health and safety seriously.

A survey by the FPB found that the majority of small businesses (56 per cent) make every effort to try to comply with health and safety laws in order to improve safety for their staff, but a quarter worry that they may be prosecuted by the HSE.

In addition, some 37 per cent of respondents believed meeting health and safety legislation is important in order to improve working practices and procedures.