Too many businesses are failing to assess health and safety risks, says Norwich Union Risk Services

Article date: 6 April 2009

Businesses are putting employees' lives at risk and could be contravening health and safety legislation, says Norwich Union Risk Services (NURS), soon to be Aviva Risk Management Solutions.

According to the Health and Safety Executive, over 136,000 injuries to employees were reported in 2007/2008.1

Research conducted by NURS reveals that nearly 40% of businesses are not getting competent advice on their health and safety risks.2

Simon Cook, lead health and safety consultant for NURS says that to prevent life changing accidents at work, it's imperative that an appointed competent person3 conducts adequate health and safety risk assessments. 

"The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations require companies to have at least one competent person qualified to advise on health and safety matters. This is even more important during these difficult economic times as the impact of a serious accident could be unbearable for many businesses.

"Often businesses tell us that they either don't have the time or resources, don't know where to begin when it comes to health and safety, or they need additional support and advice from someone who knows what they are talking about.

"Failing in the basic responsibilities of completing risk assessments means that firms are not aware of the hazards present on their premises and are not therefore managing them effectively.  For example, we see businesses failing to segregate vehicles and pedestrians on their premises, or not putting housekeeping measures in place to ensure that slip and trip hazards are minimised."

"NURS has launched a Competent Person Support service, which offers businesses specific approaches and tailored solutions to assist with meeting important health and safety requirements.

"The use of external health and safety consultants is one cost effective way to bring in the necessary expertise in practical health and safety management. It can be a useful business strategy until businesses are in a position to appoint their own suitably qualified staff." 

There are three levels of NURS' Competent Person Support services available:

Level one
Ideal for small businesses and involves NURS consultants making an initial appraisal of a business's health and safety needs. Consultants will provide their expertise to complete risk assessments, develop health and safety policies and procedures and safe systems of work for an organisation. Businesses get practical on-site mentoring, help and advice. The mentoring approach can help businesses continue to manage risks themselves, should they wish to, with the assistance of NURS' small business self help and resource tool.

Level two
Suited to larger businesses, this involves a Safety "Health-check" Audit, where a consultant will produce a detailed report outlining a company's current legal compliance status and the suitability of existing health and safety management arrangements, along with a tailored action plan. Consultants can then assist the business implement the plan by developing health and safety management systems, completing risk assessments and safe systems of work, carrying out workplace safety inspections, conducting accident investigations, chairing health and safety meetings, auditing safety procedures and providing on-site health and safety training to staff. Businesses can be confident that they have access to support from health and safety experts who will guide them towards significantly improved standards of health and safety compliance.

Level three
Aimed at UK National or Multi-national organisations, consultants utilise a suite of specialist tools including behavioural safety programmes, specialist education and training programmes and in-depth auditing tools, to bring about noticeable changes in the health and safety culture of a business.

Additional information can be found from:


For further information, please contact:
Sam Bramwell at Staniforth on 0161 919 8025 / 077381 96667 or Sally Leeman at Norwich Union on 01603 684 225 / 07789 270 677.

Notes to editors:

2 Research conducted by Norwich Union Risk Services with 650 companies in 2008.

3 A competent person is someone who has sufficient training and experience or knowledge and other qualities that allows them to carry out adequate risk assessments.

Norwich Union Risk Services is the specialist risk management division of Norwich Union that is dedicated to helping UK businesses manage their risks in an effective way.

They achieve this through their national team of approximately 180 staff which includes:

  • Risk advisers and specialists - Who visit commercial properties across the UK to help identify risks and recommend dynamic and practical risk management solutions for Norwich Union's insured customers.
  • Safety consultants - Who provide expert health, safety and environmental training and consultancy services.

In the summer of 2009 Norwich Union Risk Services Ltd will change its name to Aviva Risk Management Solutions UK Ltd.

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

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