Norwich Union advises tradesman to adopt safe working practices

Article date: 16 March 2009

Norwich Union, soon to be Aviva, is urging tradesmen to adopt best working practices to protect themselves, their customers and their business, as part of its 2009 Simply Safety campaign.

To ensure tradesmen use safe ways of working, Phil Grace, liability risk manager at Norwich Union highlights the importance of conducting a risk assessment - the cornerstone of managing risk in the workplace.

He says: "Tradesmen should conduct a risk assessment in the first instance, which will highlight any potential risks that need to be managed.  This does not have to be an arduous task. It simply involves looking at what needs to be done and working out the safest way to complete the job."

Grace advises that this approach will detect any risks and suggests that the most common dangers to tradesmen are electricity, chemicals, work at height and power tools.

"Work at height and power tools are perhaps the greatest risks to the self-employed tradesman. However, adopting safe methods of working will reduce the risk of injury," says Grace.

"Tradesmen should also ensure that they are using the correct equipment for the job. For example, a stable and purpose-built means of access in preference to a makeshift approach, such as a chair or toolbox.

"When using hazardous substances such as solvents or adhesives, protective equipment should be used. It is also vital that tradesmen carry out their work with the correct training, so for example, those working on gas appliances should be CORGI registered."

In addition to implementing safe ways of working to look after a tradesman's own health and safety, Grace also stresses that protecting the customer is equally important.

Last year, an elderly woman sustained major injuries falling through an open hatch in her home which was left unguarded by a tradesman installing a central heating system. The incident resulted in prosecution and a fine totalling nearly £5,000 plus compensation for the householder.

Tradesmen are responsible for implementing a safe system of work to prevent any incident occurring. "Being aware of surroundings is imperative, as vulnerable people may be present including children or the elderly, so segregating the work area from the customer is crucial. 

"Leaving tool boxes lying around with tools sticking out or trailing wires could put these individuals in danger. Accidents can be avoided if areas are fenced off, or holes are covered to prevent unsafe access. 

"In addition to assessing health and safety risks, making sure you have the correct insurance will help to protect your business. Any tradesman should have public liability insurance to provide compensation in the event of property damage or injury to the customer.

"Personal accident insurance is also well worth considering, as an injury that prevents a self-employed tradesman from working could have serious consequences for the business, as well as family life. It commonly comes as part of a package with other types of insurance such as public liability."

In one recent claims example, a painter and decorator paid approximately £390 per annum for a self-employed person's package covering public liability, property damage and personal accident insurance.

He banged his head at work, leaving him unable to work for 12 months, however, under his Norwich Union Group Personal Accident policy he received a total sum of around £16,000 during that period.*

"Although this may not cover all costs and may only be a proportion of a monthly salary, it offers a safety net that will give some peace of mind when the bills come in," says Grace.

"Although not legally required, it is advisable to consider the benefits of securing an accreditation or becoming a member of a professional body such as Federation of Master Builders or Electrical Contractors' Association. This allows the customer to instantly recognise good quality workmanship and can enhance your reputation. The TrustMark, for example, is a standard that recognises tradesmen who are inspected and approved to Government endorsed standards."

Grace warns that in the current economic climate, tradesmen may be tempted to quote for work that falls outside their scope: "Tradesmen should know their limits - what may seem like a simple and quick job will have a greater risk associated with it if the tradesman is not properly trained to complete the work."

A downloadable guide on the subject is also available at


For further information, please contact:
Alex Anderson at Staniforth on 0161 9198021 or Sally Leeman at Norwich Union, 01603 684225/ 07789 270677.

Notes to editors:

*There are varying levels of compensation, depending on the level of cover purchased.  Norwich Union advises tradesmen to contact their insurance broker for more information.

Norwich Union is the UK's largest general insurer with a market share of around 15%, with a focus on insurance for individuals and small businesses.

It is a leading provider of life, pensions and investment products and one of the largest financial adviser (FA) providers. FAs provide over 70% of the company's long-term savings business in the UK.

In the summer of 2009 Norwich Union will change its name to Aviva.  Aviva is the world's fifth largest insurance group and operates in 27 countries. Aviva is to become the customer brand worldwide, thus enabling the company to compete even more effectively on a global scale for the benefit of customers, staff, business partners and shareholders.

Norwich Union's news releases and a selection of images are available from Aviva's internet press centre at

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