Health and Safety Rules Broken by Most Managers

Two thirds of managers in small businesses are knowingly breaking health and safety regulations on a weekly basis, new research has found.

The survey of 1,000 managers in UK small firms by business support services provider ELAS found that 88% admitted to having broken at least one health and safety regulation in the past week alone! Of these three quarters said they had flouted the health and safety rules knowingly.

The regulation breaches included leaving a slip, trip or fall hazard on the workplace floor (51%), using electrical equipment that had not been safety tested (49%) and risking falling from height by balancing on the edge of a table or chair to change a light bulb or reach a high shelf (26%).

However, despite a large number of managers regularly breaking safety rules, 56% had pulled up a staff member for breaching similar regulations in the previous week.

“It seems to be a case of do as I say, not do as I do.”

said ELAS health and safety manager, Wayne Dunning.

“Bosses often try to make out that health and safety is confusing or that they don’t know what is allowed and what isn’t.”

“But this shows they are clearly clued up about what constitutes a hazard, and are quick to police them, but that doesn’t stop them knowingly flouting those regulations when it suits them.”

A Federation of Small Businesses spokesman said he wasn’t surprised by the survey’s results, saying:

“Many small firms lack a personnel department, so it’s difficult for them to follow the raft of regulations in areas such as health and safety, which bigger businesses are able to follow.”

A Health and Safety Executive spokesman added:

“We work with businesses to assist in compliance with the law, but where businesses place workers or members of the public at risk, we will not hesitate to take appropriate action.”

“Health and safety does not have to be complicated. It just needs businesses to think about what might cause harm to people and decide whether enough is being done to prevent that harm. The risks in a small office will be different from those on a construction site — actions need to be taken accordingly.”

For further business advice see An Introduction to Health & Safety, Fire Safety Regulations Guide and the Health and Safety Risk Assessment.

Health and Safety rules are being regularly flouted by small business managers

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