Small businesses may face larger employers' liability insurance premiums under the introduction of a new scheme which lets the NHS recover the costs of treating patients that have been paid personal injury compensation.
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) warned that the prospects of small firms and the UK economy as a whole could be damaged if they are faced with spiralling insurance costs.
The organisation said that smaller companies employ more than half of the private sector workforce in the UK and generate more than half of UK GDP.
Mary Boughton, FSB health and safety chairman, said: "We are not here to defend businesses whose negligence causes accidents in the workplace. But the vast majority of small businesses are conscientious employers and don't deserve to be set back by higher insurance premiums."
Insurers must work with small businesses to keep premiums down and should take account of a good health and safety record when calculating premiums, the FSB has claimed.
It said that it was not long ago that 25 per cent of small firms found it difficult to secure any Employers' Liability Compulsory Insurance through no fault of their own.