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Small Businesses Break New Year Resolutions Within A Month

10th January 2006

Good intentions fail because changes seen as too costly to implement.

The majority of resolutions to make business improvements this year will not stand the test of time according to an opinion survey released today by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) as part of its Better Business campaign. The results show that 70 per cent of small businesses in Scotland make New Year's resolutions, but that 47 per cent of these will break them within one month.

The results also highlight the areas where businesses plan to make improvements. Better financial systems and more effective marketing were seen as the most important areas of development, followed by staff training and enhancing the I.T. systems. With so many things to focus on, health and safety gets pushed to the bottom of the list of priorities.

However, up to 20,000 people in Scotland were injured or became ill because of work last year, costing their employers an average of about 1,200 each time. In addition, a total of 3.8 million working days were lost through injury and ill health by businesses based in Scotland, equating to an average annual loss of an estimated 1.9 days per worker.

For small businesses especially it can add up to a serious dent in profits. "Health and safety measures are often overlooked or neglected because small businesses say they think it's all too complicated", said Rory Mackail of the Federation of Small Businesses in Scotland and member of the Partnership on Health and Safety in Scotland, "but in fact preventative measures can benefit businesses financially by averting work based incidents, and the associated staff and workplace costs that follow."

However, the opinion survey found that up to 53 per cent of businesses in Great Britain do not maintain their New Year's resolutions because their planned changes are either too expensive or take up too many resources. Yet many health and safety improvements are not necessarily expensive and can be easily put in place.

"There's plenty of evidence now to show that health and safety measures are always in the interest of the business, as they contribute to protecting staff and productivity, as well as the bottom line," said Stewart Campbell, HSE Director, Scotland.

HSE's Better Business campaign is a national initiative that focuses on raising awareness about the financial and personal costs and causes of workplace incidents. It also shows the real bottom-line benefits of managing health and safety effectively. For further information and to read about the business benefits of better health, go to or contact HSE's Infoline on 0845 345 0055.

Three of the most common causes of workplace ill health and injury are slips and trips, stress and back pain. Further information on these is available on the HSE website at

Some examples of simple measures that small businesses can take are:
talk to staff - they are often the best people to identify problems and offer solutions; mop up spills quickly; make loads smaller and easier to lift - for example, try to get materials in lighter or less awkward packages.