Research reveals cost of ignoring health and safety procedures

Good health and safety practice is expected from any responsible employer – but compliance can be a considerable cost to SMEs.

However, recent research has shown that it is actually cheaper to comply with health and safety legislation, rather than leave it to chance.

Health and safety consultancy Arinite reviewed the fines issued for health and safety offences in 2016 and found that they amounted to £34.4 million.

It also analysed how much small and medium-sized businesses were spending on compliance in this area, finding that SMEs pay between £5,000 and £40,000 annually to comply with their health and safety responsibilities.

This included areas such as insurance, health and safety advice, and having processes and procedures in place.

Arinite calculated the average fine imposed and then subtracted the £40,000 maximum annual cost of compliance.

It used these calculations to show that, if a company is fined, it will cost at least £75,000 more than if it had taken the appropriate steps to become compliant with health and safety regulations.

There are also additional costs to consider on top of the fine itself, such as lawyers’ fees, lost time, increased insurance costs, reputational damage and loss of current and future business.

Another factor to consider is how the Health and Security Executive (HSE) and the courts view companies that do not meet their legal duties on health and safety. If a company is found to have profits ahead of safety, or there is a track record of failings, any penalty imposed is likely to be greater.

There is also the risk that the HSE, under its ‘Fees For Intervention’ scheme, could charge companies £129 an hour while it investigates any wrong doing and challenges the lack of effective procedures, further increasing costs.

However, if it can be shown that an honest attempt to be compliant with duties has been made, any penalty should also reflect this. Because of this, it is important to keep records of the time, money and resources spent on meeting health and safety requirements, should any of these issues arise.

The Health and Security Executive advises that failure to comply with health and safety can “have serious consequences”, for both organisations and individuals. As well as fines, sanctions can include imprisonment and disqualification.

The figures are further proof of the importance for business owners to ensure they have the correct health and safety responsibilities in place. Following simple procedures can avoid costly fines and fees in the future.

Aegis can provide support in areas such as health and safety policy, risk management and expert advice and support.

To discuss how Aegis can support you or your organisation with health and safety, please call 01772 736 522 or email