Research from Business Link has found that nearly three-quarters of small firms believe  lack of time is a main obstacle stopping them improving the health and safety processes in their business.

Half of the businesses surveyed cited costs, followed by a third who said they have made attempts, but a lack of staff awareness has kept their health and safety procedures from getting better.

"Although businesses are making real progress with health and safety, with nearly 40% of those surveyed saying they have a full health and safety policy in place, two thirds of businesses believe they can do more to improve their processes or are simply complying with the minimum legal requirement," said Jonathan Hollow, portal editor at businesslink.gov.uk.

Mr Hollow has urged business owners to work with government support services to help overcome those obstacles and ensure they comply with government standards.