New health and safety body launched for SMEs

A new UK body has been launched to promote health and safety among small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs).

Safety Groups UK is being backed by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.

Its launch comes as Workplace Health Connect, a pilot scheme offering free health, safety and OH advice to SMEs, began in February.

Safety Groups has been formed out of the National Health and Safety Groups Council, a body of about 80 community-based groups that already advise SMEs.

Key areas it will be focusing on will include slips, trips and falls, stress and musculoskeletal disorders. It is also leading a project on occupational skin disease called ‘Derm at Work’.

Chairman Kerry Ross said: “The groups have been one of the country’s best-kept secrets. Made up of representatives from local businesses, they provide low-cost health and safety help through such things as seminars and advice lines.

“The decision has been taken to relaunch the national co-ordinating body with a new name and a new mission,” he added. “The aim is to ensure the health and safety groups are key players in the UK health and safety system, and in the delivery of the UK health and safety strategy.”

A partnership agreement has been signed with the HSE and the body is now looking at how best to raise awareness, widen access to programmes and increase membership.

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