Informa Markets

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Safety and Health Practitioner (SHP) is first for independent health and safety news.
May 18, 2017

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Are you sure your insurance company will pay your claim?

If you’re starting a new business or are just beginning to recruit staff; health and safety can appear to be just another headache.  In fact, even some companies that have been going a while haven’t really got a clear strategy for health and safety – and then there’s an accident.

‘We’ve got an insurance policy to cover that’

That’s a good start, BUT if you haven’t got a robust health and safety strategy in place your insurance company may refuse to pay some or all of your claim.  If personal injury is involved that can be very expensive.

Even if you can prove that the accident would have happened – regardless of whether or not you had an operational health and safety strategy – that’s still not enough for some insurance companies.  If they investigate and find you don’t have appropriate health and safety rules in place with all the necessary paperwork and training that go with them, they may still pay a reduced amount or nothing at all.

Not having a proper health and safety policy in place can result in all kind of painful inconveniences including:

  • An improvement notice – requiring action to be taken to change things in line with the notice
  • A prohibition notice – which means that business must cease certain activities until action is taken to comply with the notice
  • Fines – and both the company and individuals within the company could be fined.
  • Prison – yes, really. Directors and senior managers can be incarcerated if a court decides real negligence has taken place.

Then the company can be taken to court for compensation if anyone has suffered injury or damage to their health as a result of the company’s action or negligence.

‘It won’t happen to me’

There are people who gamble on the so-called law of averages and trust that they’re holding lucky dice.  Take another look at those figures:

  • 144 people are killed at work every year
  • In 2014-15 £14.1 billion was paid to cover injuries and ill health as a result of work-related activities
  • 660 prosecutions took place (resulting in fines – AND court costs AND time away from work for key personnel)
  • 11,403 notices were issued requiring action to be taken

Fines aren’t just a few hundred pounds – they can run well over £100,000 and are usually a few thousand – plus court costs, also usually a few thousand too.

‘We have a H&S policy’

Having a policy is only useful if it’s a living policy – not just some paper in a file or an electronic document stored on the hard drive.

Anyone can download a standard health and safety policy from the web – but does it actually work for your particular kind of organisation?

It’s not unheard of for companies to have downloaded a ‘standard’ health and safety policy – and when you read it through it refers to all kinds of activities that the company doesn’t carry out.

It doesn’t have to be rocket science

Health and safety should be practical and pragmatic.  It should be based on the real world situation and on good common sense.  It’s worth engaging an expert who knows what does need doing – and what doesn’t – so you spend money on the right things and not on unnecessary bells and whistles.

See David Whitelegg speak at Safety and Health expo 2017. Register now.

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