By Darrell Sansom, managing director at AXA Business Insurance

When you first start a small business, you often do it alone.

And while flying solo can have its benefits, most small business owners look forward to bringing in a helping hand, to sharing the load, and to enjoying the brainstorming and banter that a growing team will bring.

Hiring your first staff member will always be one of the most exciting milestones in your business journey, and employing people is one of the most rewarding parts of running your own business. But it’s also one of the most challenging.

Not only do you have an extra moral responsibility for the safety, security, health and happiness of another person, but there are legal requirements you need to consider as you grow.

Most of these are pretty clear, but I’m always surprised to learn that many new business owners don’t realise that, in most cases, employer’s liability insurance is a must for anyone with staff, contractors, sub-contractors or interns. Trading without it is against the law, and failure to secure cover will leave you open to fines of up to £2,500 per day.

And the insurance is not just for the benefit of your people. While it certainly gives them peace of mind that they’ll be looked after financially if they are hurt at work, the insurance also protects you from the compensation cost should anyone claim for illness or injury as a result of working for you.

Having to take time off or even leave a job because of illness or injury that happened at work can be costly emotionally and financially, and while serious accidents are always devastating, they are thankfully rare. But they’re not the only things that can affect your people’s health and wellbeing. Many new business owners don’t believe they’ll ever hurt an employee but the reality is that it happens all the time.

Indeed last year AXA Business Insurance asked 2000 people if they felt their work had impacted on their health, and most said it had.

Sixty two per cent said they had suffered eye strain after using a computer at work, and the same number had suffered muscular aches and pains after long hours at a desk. Fifty three per cent reported having sleepless nights due to job related stress, 36 per cent said they’ve been hurt by heavy lifting and 28 per cent said they’ve had pain or ringing in the ears in a noisy workplace. Sixteen per cent of respondents told us they have been assaulted at work, and five per cent said the incident was serious.

Of course, not all pains and strains turn into claims, but our findings are an important reminder that the scope for this is high and ripe for exploitation by the growing army of no-win no-fee lawyers.

Finding out just a little too late that you’ve not properly protected everything you worked so hard to build can be a devastating blow, particularly when all essential insurances are less expensive than you might assume and quickly and easily arranged online or over the phone.

So if you do have people helping you out but haven’t yet got cover in place, please do look into this today – it could save a lot of pain all round.