Article date: 15 October 2009
As part of its Simply Safety campaign 2009, Aviva, the UK’s largest insurer, is helping expanding SMEs and new start-ups de-mystify some of the most critical health and safety issues and clarify exactly what is legally required.
With a quarter of business leaders believing their organisation will face pressures to cut health and safety budgets during the recession,1 Aviva is stressing that adopting health and safety best practice doesn’t have to be costly or problematic.
According to Phil Grace, liability risk manager at Aviva: “Health and safety seeks to reduce accidents and to ensure that the risk of illness, injury and death from work is kept as low as possible, but it needn’t be over-complicated. In fact, managing risk is cost effective because it will be beneficial to the business in the long run by keeping employees in work.
"Make sure a senior manager takes responsibility for managing workplace risk as this instantly raises the profile of risk management within the business. Demonstrating commitment to risk management can also provide an insurer with confidence in the business."
He says: “The first step is to make sure the right type of insurance is in place to protect the business and provide compensation in the event of a claim. Employers Liability insurance is a legal requirement if the business employs people.
“Although not compulsory, it is a mistake not to take out Public and Product Liability cover which insures the business against other forms of liability claims. Businesses might be held legally liable for personal injury to visitors, the premises, or consumers/customers who have purchased a product and suffered injury or damage to property. It will also cover any legal costs associated with defending such claims.“
“Even those who work from home may also want to consider this type of cover as it will protect the business if any visiting clients injure themselves while on the premises.
“It is a legal requirement that businesses have a competent person to help them identify and manage risk. This could be the business owner, a director, an employee or an external supplier.
“A company’s health and safety policy must set out an employer's interest in and commitment to managing risk within the workplace and it is as important to running a business as managing the quality of products or services or the budget.
“A business also has a legal obligation to have a health and safety policy if it employs more than five people2.
"There is no right or wrong way to prepare a health and safety policy as it will depend on the individual circumstances of the business, but it should involve employees as well as management, as they are the ones who have direct experience of the dangers and issues involved in day-to-day work. The policy should also establish systems and procedures to identify, assess and control risk.
“Conducting a risk assessment will identify any potentially harmful effects to the work being carried out and the precautions that should be taken. All of the findings should be fully recorded.“
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (the Management Regulations) set out what employers are required to do to manage risk under the Health and Safety at Work Act. Key requirements include carrying out a risk assessment and giving employees appropriate training.
“Training and risk assessment are the basic principles of effective health and safety practice to protect employees and the business itself. Train employees to understand any dangers they may face, how to control them and what to do in an emergency. This will ensure they work safely.
“Accidents do not just result in injury to persons but can cause reputational damage that could be harder to repair in the current economic climate.”
Grace continues: “Keeping up-to-date, hard copy documentation is important and will help employers with the reviewing of risk management procedures. Such documentation is vital in the defence of liability claims.”
One-day courses on risk assessment and health and safety for senior executives are available from Aviva Risk Management Solutions (www.aviva.co.uk/risksolutions).
Download Simply Safety - Risk advice for start-ups and SMEs (PDF 162KB) (Link no longer active)
Aviva does not provide commercial insurance direct as it considers brokers are best placed to provide the advice and expertise needed on commercial insurance. For more information on Aviva commercial insurance talk to your insurance broker or to find a broker in your area visit www.aviva.co.uk/yourbusiness
For further information, please contact:
Alex Anderson at Staniforth on 0161 919 8021 or Sally Leeman at Aviva on 01603 684225/07789 270677
Notes to editors:
2 The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.
This press release should not be relied upon as Legal advice.
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