With the right support, SMEs can effectively manage the risks to their employees’ health and wellbeing, says Mike Robinson.

Over the last 40 years, we have witnessed immense improvements in making workplaces safer, preventing injuries and reducing incidences of ill health, but the cost of work-related ill health to the country has remained fairly static over the past five years. In 2014, injuries and the ill health of employees resulting from work cost society £14.3bn, of which £9.4bn was from illness and £4.9bn from injury (HSE). However, the number of working days lost due to ill health has increased, mostly as a result of work-related stress.

The economic and social arguments for promoting workplace health and wellbeing have been widely recognised. Despite this, only 13 per cent of UK small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) employ an HR professional with responsibility for employee health (Bupa). This doesn’t mean that SMEs don’t believe in looking after the health of their workers, but it is a reflection of their distinctive nature and the challenges they face.


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