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5 common risks facing UK businesses

25 February 2020

Estimated Read Time: 3 minutes 45 seconds

There are some risks that most businesses in the UK need to be aware of, regardless of sector and size. We take a closer look at some of the most common risks facing businesses today and the steps that can be taken to mitigate them.

1. Property risks

Damage to a business’s physical property, whether it’s an office, store, warehouse or factory, can cause serious issues and even result in temporary closure. It’s important that businesses regularly assess the property risks that they might be susceptible to. For example, hotels and restaurants are more vulnerable to kitchen fires, and put plans in place to help mitigate them.

Escape of water presents a real risk to many types of businesses, whether caused by frozen pipes bursting, poor construction or corroded pipes. To limit escape of water risks, businesses are advised to carry out regular inspections on their pipework and water tank and be extra vigilant during cold snaps. There are also technologies, like remote meter reading and leak warning devices, which can help identify leaks before they do any real damage.

The speed with which modern businesses change and develop can make it hard to identify and control all property risks accurately, which is why it’s essential companies regularly review their risk management strategies and ensure they have adequate cover in place for all their activities.


2. Slips, trips and falls

Slips, trips and falls are responsible for 31% of non-fatal injuries [i] in UK workplaces, costing business over £512 million [ii] each year. Latest data from the HSE shows they cause more accidents in the workplace than handling, lifting, carrying and acts of violence combined.

The best way for businesses to manage slips, trips and falls is to carry out thorough risk assessments to help identify potential issues and have a clear process for reporting and reviewing hazards, that is communicated effectively to all staff.

Practical steps for reducing slips, trips and falls include ensuring all areas are well lit, providing bins to help prevent clutter on the floor and ensuring that buildings are well maintained.


3. Cyber threats

Cyber risk has become increasingly prominent in recent years, with several surveys citing it as businesses’ number one concern in 2020. The advancement of 5G technology means it will be easier than ever for people to be connected, but it also brings with it more opportunities for cyber-attacks on business systems.

While cyber security tools have advanced over the years, so have criminals’ skills. It’s more important than ever that companies take steps to evaluate their overall security strategy and ensure appropriate cybersecurity measures are in place, as well as specialist cyber cover in case the worst happens.


4. HR challenges

Keeping up with ever-changing legislation is a continuous risk for businesses as getting it wrong can result in costly lawsuits. And risk levels are likely to ramp up in 2020 with a number of employment law changes planned throughout the year, including changes to the tax laws for contractors and self-employed workers being introduced in April.

Other changes planned throughout the year include extending the right to a statement of employment terms to all workers, as well as employees. The statement must also be issued from the first day of employment rather than within two months and include certain information. The Parental Bereavement Act will also come into effect on April 6, entitling all working parents who lose a child under the age of 18, or after 24 weeks of pregnancy, to two weeks’ leave, as a right from day one of their employment.

Businesses will have to prepare for any employment law changes as a result of Brexit. While most EU laws will continue to apply during the transition period to December 31 2020, 2021 could bring changes to immigration law, as well as potential changes to equality laws, holidays and working time, data protection, transfer of undertakings (TUPE) and workers’ rights.


5. Business interruption

Having to temporarily close is most businesses’ worst nightmare and could be disastrous for smaller and newer companies. Reasons for business interruption can range from damage to premises caused by an unexpected fire or storm, which result in temporary closure, to a vital system or piece of machinery breaking down.

Having a robust disaster recovery plan in place and reviewing it regularly can help minimise disruption if the worst happens, and business interruption insurance can help keep companies up and running if income is temporarily reduced.

Our team of in-house risk surveyors can help your clients manage and reduce their business risks. The information they provide also allows underwriters to tailor cover and terms appropriately for the level of risk present. For more information on how our team of in-house risk surveyors can help your clients, speak to your usual NIG contact.


[i] https://croner.co.uk/resources/managing-health-safety/slips-trips-falls/

[ii] https://www.hse.gov.uk/paper/slips-trips-falls.htm