News - 28 November 2013

Free Business Health And Safety Advice Service Launched

Free health and safety advice is being offered as part of a project to help businesses in the region cope with regulations. 

The new service will be accessible via the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Chamber of Commerce (DNCC) and delivered by South Derbyshire District Council Environmental Health officers. 

It is being part-funded by Derbyshire County Council as part of the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills’ ‘Better Business for All’ initiative.

A recent survey of members by DNCC found that 21 per cent of firms felt that of all the rules and regulations, health and safety legislation had the biggest impact on their business. 

General employment laws and business taxation also featured high on their list of concerns. 

Previous surveys suggested firms spent an estimated £68,787 on average each year on ensuring their business complied with all the regulations governing their sector, ranging from sole traders paying as little as £100, to one local business which reported that it had an annual compliance spend of £2m. 

Around 17 per cent of companies said their staff spend between 10-20 hours each week on compliance administration. 

By offering a free advisory service to up to 100 local businesses over the next six months, the Chamber intends to use the information it gathers to develop evidence about the effects of health and safety legislation. The feedback will be used to inform Government and regulatory agencies to help them understand what difficulties the business community has with the way laws are interpreted and enforced. 

DNCC Chief Executive George Cowcher said: “Feedback from businesses consistently informs us that firms feel that the time, cost, volume and complexity of regulation inhibits them from recruiting, expanding and investing. This comes at a time when business is expected to drive the economic recovery. 

“Meeting regulations is not as difficult as is often believed, though. We’ve found that regulators are committed to supporting businesses by providing advice and guidance that helps them understand and meet their responsibilities. 

“By providing this service we want to give a direct helping hand to businesses in the region and in doing so we want to get direct evidence to find out why businesses find health and safety such a headache and what we can do, working with the regulators, to make it easier and cheaper.” 

Derbyshire County Council Cabinet Member for Health and Communities Councillor Dave Allen said: “We get very positive feedback from local businesses that receive advice from our trading standards service, but we understand that for businesses to grow, they need clear, practical and unambiguous advice. 

“We are delighted to support this initiative and believe that local businesses should not be fearful of seeking advice from the local regulators.” 

D2N2 LEP Chief Executive, David Ralph, added: “Red tape is a barrier to firms and getting unnecessary bureaucracy out of the way is a key component of Better Business for All, creating a direct dialogue between businesses, organisations and regulators. 

“This new health and safety advice service will be a big help to businesses right across the D2N2 area and we would urge them to utilise it in the coming weeks and months.” 

Any local business which would like to make use of the advisory service should call 0844 225 4089.

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