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RoSPA inquiry focuses on safety help for small firms

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents is holding an inquiry to improve help for small firms on health and safety. During the 18-month project, RoSPA ' s National Occupational Safety and Health Committee will look at the effectiveness of current activities that promote and support the management of health and safety in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK. It will also investigate opportunities for future action.

The committee is calling for evidence on the quality of health and safety advice given to small firms, how to avoid unnecessary bureaucracy and the duplication of effort, how to share good practice and how to encourage greater collaboration between key players.

As part of the inquiry, a formal hearing will be held on May 23 at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole Hotel, NEC, for professionals who have had direct experience of assessing health and safety in SMEs.

Among those invited to give evidence at the hearing, which will run alongside the Safety and Health Expo, are major clients, main contractors, insurers, schools involved in work experience, local authorities, trade associations, certification bodies and local safety groups.

Roger Bibbings, RoSPA Occupational Safety Adviser, said: “SMEs are not simply smaller versions of large companies, and research has shown that they face distinct challenges when dealing with occupational safety and health. It is therefore important that any efforts to help raise health and safety standards in small firms are targeted at the very specific issues they face.

“Besides building up a unique picture of current activity, the National Occupational Safety and Health Committee 's SME project will seek to spot missed opportunities and make imaginative recommendations for action. Ultimately, it will aim to extend and improve the way small firms get tailored help with health and safety.

“At this stage of the inquiry, the committee would particularly like to hear from people with experience of assessing the health and safety competence of small firms. We want to know what types of assessment work well, what some of the barriers are, and what could be done better.”

Organisations and individuals unable to attend the hearing, which will be chaired by Paul Reeve, Health, Safety and Environment Adviser at the Electrical Contractors ' Association, are able to make written submissions by May 21.

For more information about the inquiry and details of the hearing, call Roger Bibbings on 0121 248 2095, email rbibbings@rospa.com or visit www.rospa.com/occupationalsafety/sme/

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