If you are an employer, the phrase ‘health and safety’ will perhaps make you shudder at the thought of your responsibilities which can often seem quite daunting.
The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 requires every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of employees, as well as any non-employee on the premises or at the site of work, such as visitors or passers-by.
Insuring your Risk
As an employer you will be covered under employers’ liability insurance for any injury or industrial disease suffered by an employee whilst carrying out their duties. Public liability insurance covers you for injury or disease to non-employees.
Insurers expect employers to take reasonable steps to comply with the requirements of the Health and Safety Act and other such regulations. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has issued guidance and tools to help with this, which can be found on the HSE website.
Helping you Manage Your Risk
The insurers we deal with, and we ourselves, are keen to help employers manage their health and safety risk. Our main line of advice is, as well as taking steps to reduce risk and avoid claims altogether, you should be constantly aiming to bolster your chances of defending a claim should one be made.
So, how can you go about doing this?
Documents & Policies: Firstly, insurers will not normally require formal proof that your business is working within health and safety guidelines. They won’t request copies of your health and safety documentation before issuing cover either. However, if someone were to make a claim against you, it would strengthen your defence if you could produce documentation such as risk assessments, training records and evidence of monitoring policies and procedures.
Risk Assessments: There is no legal or insurance requirement for producing written risk assessments if your employees total fewer than five. However, evidence of such assessments could assist should a claim be brought against you.
Health & Safety Consultants: There is a legal requirement for a business to have access to ‘competent health and safety advice’. This advice can usually come from within your team, so it’s a good idea to provide adequate training so there is someone on your staff to cover this role. There is no legal obligation to engage an external health and safety consultant, although it may be the case that, due to the nature of your business, your insurer will recommend you use one listed on the Occupational Safety and health Consultants Register. Ensure you follow their guidance.
Portable Appliance Testing: It’s not necessary to test every portable electrical appliance on your premises every year, and insurers won’t insist upon it. However, you need to bear in mind that you do have a duty to prevent dangerous situations arising, so insurers will recommend you follow HSE guidance on portable equipment.
It’s also worth mentioning, as we are asked this fairly regularly, that insurers will not refuse to pay out on a claim just because a health and safety breach occurred. Neither will they withdraw cover mid-term for this reason.
If there is anything at all you are unsure of as an employer concerning health and safety and insurance, then don’t hesitate to get in touch. As always, we’re here to help and are genuinely keen to help you manage your health and safety risk as an employer.