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Workplace Injuries at UK SMEs Rise Sharply Over Last Five Years

24 August 2017, 21:37 CET

Injuries at work are rare, but the number of those recorded in the UK has gone up by more than expected in recent years.

Stats from 2012 to the end of 2016 show that the number of claims made for accidents at work has risen by 41%. These accidents range from minor ones such as slips, trips and falls to those that are far more severe.

Looking more closely at the data, many of the accidents taking place on the premises of small businesses take place on Mondays. This can partly be put down to the start of the working week being the least organised. However, a lot of it can be attributed to some SMEs not paying enough attention to the health and safety of their employees.

The data drew on survey responses from SME workers across some of the UK's biggest cities. Liverpool was the most likely place for accidents at work to take place within a small business, with Glasgow and Manchester just behind. London, which is home to more new small businesses than anywhere else in the country, came in eighth place.

Accidents by Industry

Industries that have a high risk of injury typically involve a significant amount of physical work. Construction in particular ranked quite highly in the survey, with many hazards such as moving vehicles, heavy machinery and equipment all involved. Even the slightest trip could result in a serious injury such as whiplash on a busy construction site.

However, in less physically taxing areas such as hairdressing, dog walking and fitness instruction, workplace injuries seem to occur more often than expected. Dog walkers, for example, are three times more likely to have an accident on the job than lorry drivers.

Regardless of which industry an employee is in, having some form of protection in case an accident takes place could soften the impact that an occupational injury can make. Products such as public liability insurance for employers and health insurance for employees can make a difference.

Extra Protection

There was a slight drop in the recorded number of accidents at work for 2016. Irrespective of that, SMEs in the UK (and elsewhere) should look at taking preventative measures for the sake of their employees' safety. Providing safety wear, erecting signage alerting employees to dangers such as wet floors, and hiring a safety supervisor are all worth exploring.

A major issue for small businesses is funding those measures. Adding signage, safety wear and any extra staffing and training costs together could turn a profit into a loss. Self-employed people might be too busy to even consider their own safety on the job. Taking a few small steps such as taking time with difficult tasks could make a big difference.

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