If we keep our ‘Sums Insured’ low it won’t cost us as much…

…WRONG!  

This could end up costing you a lot more in the long run.

There are a surprising number of businesses both large and small that are drastically under-insured.

Some may genuinely believe that they have insured for the correct amount at the time whilst others may have intentionally left their sums insured low in order to keep premiums to a minimum.

We cannot stress the importance of ensuring that yours Sums Insured in respect of buildings, contents, stock etc are set correctly at the outset and reviewed on a regular basis.  Most policies, unless stated otherwise, are on a reinstatement (new for old) basis and therefore you should be insuring for the new replacement value – not what you believe it is worth now.

The reason most policyholders get caught out is because they do not realise that most insurance policies contain an “Average clause”.  This means that if you have under-insured, your claim will be reduced proportionately; for example; let’s assume you have insured your business contents for £500,000, when the actual replacement value should be £1,000,000; effectively you are 50% under-insured.  You may think “it’s fine, I can replace everything second hand for £500,000”, however, in the event of a claim any settlement will be reduced by 50%. So, if the claim was for £20,000 you would only receive £10,000.

If you suffer a small claim it may not be the end of the world, but in the event of a large or catastrophic loss this could cost you dearly!

Ultimately, it is your responsibility as the policyholder to get the sum insured right as neither your insurer, or broker, is a professional valuer and they do not have a responsibility in this regard. One sure way to guarantee an accurate valuation is to employ the services of a professional valuer.

In the event of a loss to your business, life can be stressful enough without adding to this when you find out you are also significantly under-insured.

By Helen ParsonsCommercial Broking Manager

 

 

First Aid legislation updates coming your way soon

The next year is going to be an interesting one in terms of changes to first aid, with several major changes coming over the next 12 months.

In this blog post we are specifically looking at the changes to workplace first aid kit requirements.

 

What has changed?

We now have the new British Standard BS 8599-1:2019, which came into effect on 31st January 2019 & relates to the specification of first aid kits for use in the workplace. The existing British Standard (BS 8599-1:2011) won’t be withdrawn until 31st December 2019, as they’ve allowed an overlap period for manufacturers & vendors of first aid kits sufficient time to refresh their stocks of 2011 compliant kits.

The first thing that you’ll notice about the new Standard is that they’ve amended the recommended quantities of some of the contents.

The main changes are as follows:

  • Small workplace first aid kit: 2 medium 12 x 12cm dressings (decreased from 4), 2 large 18 x 18cm dressings (increased from 1), and safety pins are no longer required, as they are replaced with microporous tape.
  • Medium workplace first aid kit: 4 medium 12 x 12cm dressings (decreased from 6), 3 large 18 x 18cm dressings (increased from 2), 2 rolls of microporous tape (increased from 1), and safety pins are no longer required.
  • Large workplace first aid kit: 6 medium 12 x 12cm dressings (decreased from 8), 4 large 18 x 18cm dressings (increased from 2), 3 rolls of microporous tape (increased from 1), and safety pins are no longer required.

 

The number of first aid kits and its content you need should be risk assessed, as a guide:

 

For low hazard workplaces (e.g. offices environments) we would suggest:

  • Fewer than 25 employees: 1 small workplace first aid kit.
  • From 25-100 employees: 1 medium workplace first aid kit.
  • Over 100 employees: 1 large workplace first aid kit per 100 employees.

 

For higher hazard work environments (factory environments, construction sites, etc.) you should consider the requirement to be slightly more stringent:

  • Fewer than five employees: 1 small first workplace first aid kit
  • From 5-25 employees: 1 medium workplace first aid kit
  • More than 25 employees: 1 large kit per 25 employees

 

Note: we would always want you to consider, what is the type and severity of the injury likely to happen, and that is the first aid contents you should be looking at when you open your first aid kit.

The employer is responsible for providing suitable work equipment and training staff to use it, again numbers of kits and numbers of first aiders for the workplace.

A good idea is that the equipment remains fit for purpose and should be checked weekly for re-supply.

 

You should be aware that there are three new first aid kits now available:

 

  • The ‘travel and motoring first aid kit’. It’s a good idea to provide these for company car/vehicle drivers, they are designed to be transportable and used when employees are working away from the main workplace.
  • The ‘personal issue first aid kit’ aimed specifically at lone workers.
  • And the ‘critical injury first aid kit’ where employees will be engaged in work with dangerous machinery, cutting equipment, power tools, construction, agriculture, etc.

 

Do I need to be worried?

In simple terms, if you were to go out and buy a first aid kit today, you’ll probably receive one that is compliant with BS8599:1-2011 That’s ok, but it maybe worth asking if the new kit is compliant with the new Standard.

It is important to remember that the standard is simply a recommendation and not law – you need to undertake a needs assessment to determine exactly what you require for your workplace. As such, a 2011 compliant kit will probably be suitable for your needs in 2019 or beyond because you will have determined exactly what it is that you need in your need’s assessment.

Should you need any help with regards to first aid at work assessments we will only be too glad to assist you.  Richard Wadkin CMIOSH IMaPs

By Richard Wadkin CMIOSH Risk Consultant

What makes the perfect induction for new employees?

With growing pressures on management time, I am often asked why it is important to induct new employees.

Research demonstrates that there are many benefits to a well-managed induction process.  For employers these include reducing turnover, absenteeism and increasing employee commitment and job satisfaction. For employees, starting a new role in an organisation can be an anxious time and an induction programme enables them to understand more about the organisation, their role, ways of working and to meet new colleagues.

So, what should be included in a good induction programme?

Regardless of whether there’s a formal induction programme co-ordinated by HR, or a less formal programme run by managers, it’s important to provide practical information on areas of compliance and company policy. It is useful to keep a checklist of the areas of induction training received, ideally countersigned by the individual. This list can be a vital source of reference later in employment – for example to produce evidence of training in the event of a health and safety inspection.

The list below outlines the key areas that can be included in an induction process.

  • Key HR policies such as Equity & Diversity Policy, Social Media Policy, Disciplinary and Grievance Procedure
  • Explanation of employee benefits such as private medical insurance, annual leave entitlement, life insurance
  • Role specific information such as job description, break times, introduction to colleagues
  • Facilities and IT policies and procedures
  • Health and safety, and compliance
  • Organisation information such as mission statement and company structure chart

But what should managers also look to avoid when carrying out an induction?

  • Providing too much, too soon – the employee should not be overwhelmed by a mass of information on the first day
  • Keep it simple and relevant
  • HR rather than local managers providing all the information – it should be a shared process.
  • Creating an induction programme that focuses only on administration and compliance and does not reflect organisational values – an effective induction programme should be engaging and assure the new employee that they have made the right decision to join the business.

Induction shouldn’t be treated as a ‘tick box’ exercise; it’s a key opportunity to introduce new employees to the culture and ways of working of the business. It also helps set expectations on both sides, ensuring employees are clear on what is expected from them in the role and allowing them to understand where they fit in the organisation. Managers need to invest time in inducting new employees – an effective induction process can help them settle in, become productive more quickly and avoid confusion down the line.

If you would like to talk to us about this area of HR, or any other matter, please call us on 01302 341 344.

By Louise Turner Dip Mgmt (Open) Assoc CIPDHR Business Partner

Liability Insurance Conditions, which apply to you?

Most policies covering Public and Products Liabilities will have conditions applied. You may be aware of this but not necessarily understand what actions are required by you or how they will impact your business if not complied with. Here are some pointers of what to look out for when incepting, renewing or just reading your policy.

It is important to note there are many conditions noted in policy wordings and schedules, however, these aren’t always called ‘conditions’. Each insurer uses their own words/ phrases when constructing their policy wording. Look out for clauses, endorsements, exceptions, exclusions and restrictions.

One of the most common conditions applied is a Sub-Contractors Insurance checking clause. This generally relates to the use of Bona-Fide Sub-Contractors and requires you to check and obtain evidence that they have a current insurance policy in place, which provides a certain limit of indemnity, usually equivalent to what your primary insurance policy is covering. The policy covers the work they are completing, cover is effective for the duration of the contract and provides indemnity to you as the principal.

Other conditions to be aware of are: –

  • High Risk/ Hazardous Locations Exclusions
  • Height and Depth Restrictions
  • Heat Work Exclusions/ Hot Work Conditions

Many of the above are automatically excluded under Liability policies, unless they are agreed to be covered by an underwriter and written back in to your policy. All of these can cause issues in the event of a claim if they haven’t been complied with, so it’s important you are aware of what conditions apply to you. If you are unsure, have a read through your policy documents to familiarise yourself – in particular your policy schedule and wording.

If you have any difficulties or wish to discuss this further, please give us a call on 01302 341 344 or 0114 243 9914.

By Molly White Cert CIICommercial Account Handler

The fear of not saying the right thing and the value of having a Mental Health First Aider in your business

Along with a colleague I undertook the 2 day Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) course in June and I’d like to feedback in the hope it might persuade others to invest in this for their business.

Calls to ProAktive’s HR Team asking for help in managing employees experiencing mental health issues have been on the increase in recent months. Combining that with ProAktive’s own commitment to wellbeing, this seemed like a worthwhile investment of time and cost.

I shouldn’t have been surprised to learn that in any one year, 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health challenge, but I was!  1 person in 15 will attempt to take their own life at some point and suicide is the most common cause of death for men aged between 20 and 49 in England. Shocking –so be prepared for more of those facts and some disturbing stories.

The course didn’t enable me to diagnose and counsel anyone, (that’s not the point) but it did provide me with a great all round knowledge of some of the common conditions, how to recognise them and what to do in a crisis or simply to help someone experiencing poor mental health.

I came away better informed and more importantly more confident that I am equipped to help in exactly the same way as a first aider would have traditionally with physical health.

The MHFA course advocates using a simple step by step approach. I feel more able to start a conversation, to listen, to reassure and to guide an individual to get professional help and support.

Experiencing poor mental health can affect your ability to work but people still worry about the stigma and find it difficult to talk about. Small changes in the working environment, or being a little more understanding and supportive, can make a huge difference and can help individuals to manage their own mental health ups and downs and be a healthy, happy and productive employee.

Having a certified MHFA in your workplace is a great first step in the right direction and we may see in the future that this becomes a requirement (just as it is with traditional first aiders in your business).

There are many providers out there and various courses on offer, so if you want to know more about my experience please feel free to get in touch.

By Angela Stancer ACIIHR Manager

 

 

 

Working at height – construction sites

When working on a construction site, work at height is unavoidable. In general, it’s working either from a ladder, an item of mobile plant (a scissor lift) or a scaffold.

Employers are responsible for providing suitable work equipment and training staff to use it.  Checking equipment before use is always a good idea and in fact very good working practice.

So, what are we talking about?

Small Plant

This includes hop-ups (a small step about 900mm long by 450mm wide by 450mm high), ladders, step- ladders, podium platforms and alloy towers. Please note that additional training of a PASMA, Prefabricated Access Suppliers and Manufacturers Association, card is required for alloy towers. Internal training to use the other equipment would be sufficient to ensure your staff know how to use it and keep safe.

MEWPs

Mobile Elevated Work Platforms consist of either scissor lifts (that go up and down) or ‘Cherry Pickers’ which have a mobile basket on a boom and can provide more ‘fluid’ access arrangements.  When using this equipment, you will need to go to a specialist trainer to obtain an International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) card for the operator.  We can direct you to an appropriate provider for this training.

The use of T&F (tube and fitting) or system scaffold.

Scaffold schemes would normally be erected by a specialist subcontractor registered to CISRS, Construction Industry Scaffolder’s Record Scheme. Upon erection, they will provide you with an erection certificate (if over 2m high) and then a competent person (usually the scaffolder) will need to check the scaffold every seven days or after an event that could affect its stability, such as high winds or contact with vehicles.  It is not essential, but seen as a good idea, if the scaffold is ‘Scaff Tagged’. This is a card that is usually fixed to the scaffold near the access ladder to show, when and who, last inspected it.  The benefit of this card is that if it is not fit for purpose, anyone can pull the card from the holder and it will show “Do Not Use” to warn persons not to use the scaffold as it may be unsafe.

It is important to instruct the workforce that they are not allowed to alter the scaffold in any shape or form, this must be carried out by the scaffolders. If there are any issues with the scaffold, please instruct your personnel to inform their supervisor immediately to get it rectified.

Workers can then use the ladders to climb the lift heights, access the scaffold through spring loaded gates and then use the scaffold from the boarded platform.

Think of your working at height equipment as being part of your toolkit; it needs to be fit for purpose, someone needs to be trained to use it and it must be checked to ensure that it is in good order before using it.  Part of this process would be to have a record system to prove that your equipment is in good order before use. (e.g. ladder log records).

Items used when working at height will always be a focus for any of our construction inspections to ensure you’re providing the necessary, safe access for your personnel.

 

Should you need any help with regards to working at height equipment, please get in touch with me on 01302 341 344.

By Richard Wadkin CMIOSH IMaPsRisk Consultant

Are we there yet?

Summer is here and we’re waiting for the European heatwave to hit us hard this weekend. Many of us will be going on holiday over the next few months and for some, that could mean a ‘staycation’ – taking advantage of the beauty spots we have on offer in the UK rather than going abroad. We talk about managing risk; let’s help you by trying to reduce not only risk but stress at a time when you should be enjoying yourself. Driving during the Summer months brings different challenges than in the Winter months. Are you and your vehicle prepared before you head off on your long journey?

 

FATIGUE

In warmer weather you are more likely to feel tired. Make use of those snazzy water bottles you’ve got in the kitchen cupboard and stay hydrated. The worst thing would be to get stuck in traffic and not have a drink to hand. Water will also help you to stay alert.

Also, take advantage of the service stations on the motorway; stop and take a short nap, remembering to check parking restrictions and never snooze on the hard shoulder of the motorway!

 

GLARE

The glare from the sun causes lots of accidents. Ensure that your windscreen is clean and free of dead bugs that can smear your vision. Don’t forget to top up your washer bottle before you set off.

Keep a pair of sunglasses in your vehicle to help shield the sun from your eyes.

 

PUNCTURES

Hot weather increases the risk of punctures and sudden showers can leave the roads slippery. Check your tyres regularly for condition and pressures.

 

OVERHEATING

Check the vehicle coolant and cooling system to avoid overheating.

 

ALLERGIES

Lots of us suffer from hay fever causing itchy eyes and noses.  Remember to use non-drowsy medication.

A regularly vacuum of your vehicle will help to keep it dust free. If you’ve got air-con, keep the windows and air vents closed to reduce pollen in the vehicle.

 

THE COUNTRYSIDE

Be aware that tractors only must have brake or indicator lights if driving at night, so they may stop or turn suddenly without warning. Give them plenty of room and ensue that you have enough space to overtake safely – they may be longer than you think!

There will be more caravans on the road at this time of year so take extra care by allowing enough space and being patient. They’re off on their jollies too!

By Shell RedfernAccount Executive

 

 

 

 

 

Who supplies your suppliers?

In today’s world, many companies operate on the basis that their raw materials are purchased and processed on an as and when basis to reduce their overhead costs in having to hold large amounts of stock. They rely on other companies, outside of their control, to keep them supplied with the materials they need to keep operating. In view of this, it is worth reviewing and understanding the supply network that is being used to ensure that your tier 1 suppliers have the capability to respond to demand required, even if perhaps their suppliers are unable to meet this demand due to an insured loss at their premises.

A Business can not only be interrupted by a loss at its own premises as a consequence of property damage, but can be equally interrupted following a failure in its supply chain.

We work with our clients to review their Business Interruption risk so that we can gain a better understanding of the risks involved in their supply chain, always with a view to reduce this exposure via a risk management approach. We also tailor our clients insurance arrangements to take this risk in to consideration, to ensure that their cover not only provides indemnity for their tier 1 suppliers in the event of a loss, but also their tier 2 suppliers as well.

If this is something you would like to discuss with us, please call our insurance team on 01302 341 344. 

By Martin Singleton Dip CII Account Executive

Is health and safety just a paper exercise?

Be honest. What do you really think about health and safety? Do you see it as just a lot of paperwork for not a lot of benefit? If the answer is “yes” then you might actually be right! Health and safety management is notorious for generating huge amounts of paperwork. Checklists for this, signing sheets for that. By the time you’ve done, you’ve got a filing cabinet full of paper that no one wants to manage or even get involved with!

Here’s the catch though, the paperwork might just save your bacon. In the event of any legal action against your business, the paperwork that you have to hand will be the suit of armour that will defend you against the allegations made. So what do you do?

The key to any management system is finding a method of working that suits how you want to work. Make everything as easy to use as possible. The best advice we can give, though, is not to do everything yourself. Get your staff involved in the completion of the paperwork; this will not only get them more invested in health and safety, but will also increase the number of eyes looking critically at your workplace and reduce the amount of work that you have to do.

But what to record? As a minimum we would suggest that you think about documenting:

  • Workplace inspections – do these on a daily, weekly or monthly basis as is appropriate. If your business is a high risk workplace, you’d want to be doing the inspections more frequently than a lower risk environment such as an office.
  • Equipment checks – if you have manufacturing equipment, mobile plant, or lifting equipment then you should be undertaking pre-use checks. These aren’t onerous and are really visual inspections to ensure the item is working properly. They should not take all day – a few minutes at most.
  • Staff records – make sure you document employee inductions and training. Also, if you’re going to issue an employee with any specific items, such as PPE, then record what you’re giving them and have them sign to confirm receipt.
  • Risk assessments and Safe Systems of Work / Method Statements – These should identify what risks are in your workplace, how you want to control those risks, and how you want your staff to work. Get your staff to sign to confirm understanding of these documents.

For much of the above a simple checklist or signing sheet will suffice. And when you’re done, scan the paper copies and throw the originals away. There’s no need to keep vast amounts of paper when you can store them much more easily on a computer. This shouldn’t be burdensome though. It might take a bit of effort to set up, but once you’ve got it working it should be easy to manage.

And here’s an example of how it really will save your bacon:

Dave is a normal employee in a warehouse. One afternoon, Dave strays off a pedestrian walkway into the path of a fork lift truck. The truck collides with Dave causing a broken leg. Dave is off work and decides to sue the company for his injuries. His solicitors allege that the company is clearly negligent as they are not managing the safety of it’s employees.

In this example, the company had decided to try to implement some health and safety documentation. In conjunction with their insurers, they are able to provide evidence that the fork lift truck driver is competent to operate the machinery. They can demonstrate that they have assessed risks in their workplace, via risk assessments, and have put controls in place to manage an issues found. They can prove that Dave is aware of the risks as he has signed to confirm understanding of the risk assessment. They can also prove that Dave knew not to stray off pedestrian routes as this is in the company rules and safe systems of work, again that he has signed. Finally they can prove that the workplace was in a good, safe, condition as a workplace inspection was undertaken the previous week and no issues had been found.

When presented with all the evidence, the solicitors realised that whilst the accident had occurred, trying to prove negligence against the company was going to be difficult. They dropped the case.

Could you defend a similar claim? What if the HSE inspector visited your premises and asked for similar evidence?

Remember that in the eyes of the law, if you can’t prove that you did something then you didn’t do it. Merely saying that you did it isn’t enough. If you don’t think that you’re in a position to defend a claim, contact one of our advisers who will be happy to help you put some simple systems and processes into action.

By Ian Clayton CMIOSHH&S Manager

Death of the appraisal?

Performance reviews and / or appraisals benefit both the employer and their employees and although they are not a legal requirement, most businesses will in some way, shape or form conduct them annually. However, with the changing landscape of our workforce and more agile ways of working, coupled with employees who are often remote and much more technology savvy, are the current traditional methods of performance review still appropriate?

Essentially performance reviews have three basic functions:

  1. To provide feedback on employee behaviour, performance or progress towards targets or goals.
  2. To set objectives for future and to acknowledge strengths and identify areas of improvement.
  3. To provide Managers with information to enable career progression and employee development and to provide a forum to discuss ‘me’.

Whilst the main outcomes are the same, there are various ways of reviewing performance and not all will be suitable for your business. Below are five common traditional methods:

  1. Self-evaluation
  2. Behavioural checklists
  3. 360-degree feedback
  4. Management by objectives
  5. Ratings scale

Each method has its strengths and weaknesses and often the best approach requires a combination of methods, to create a review process that works for you. When deciding what method (or methods) work best for your company, it’s important to think about the industry you work in, what your priorities are and the culture of your organisation. You should also take into account your managers / supervisors’ skills, as performance reviews and appraisals which are undertaken badly are a disaster for businesses. If managers don’t like doing them, this will show and lead to all the opposite effects that this process is trying to achieve; happy motivated employees who are engaged and involved.

Keeping it simple is always the best approach.

What’s expected of me?

Where am I against this?

Are the gaps down to my attitude, behaviour or lack of skills in the required area?

How do I improve my performance? What do I need to change? Do I need any further support or training?

What are my career aspirations?

Some organisations are moving away from the annual set piece sit down and instead are moving to a more fluid process which supports the modern way of working; regular dialogue, an agile working environment and a pace of change which is quicker than ever before

The benefits of engaging with your employees on a more regular basis means that you can tackle issues as they develop and it also shows the employee that you are interested in them and their development and how they are coping with the daily stressors of work. The employer and employee relationship is very much a two way street and therefore getting this right can help with employee retention in a world where it is becoming more and more difficult to recruit the right people.

Ultimately there isn’t a one size fits all approach when it comes to implementing performance management. It’s important to find a method that works for your business and the people you employ that leads to positive business outcomes.

Doing performance reviews badly, is probably worse than not doing them at all!

To discuss any of the methods or for help on implementing a performance review procedure within your business contact us on 01302 341 344 and ask for our HR Consultancy Team. 

By Kris Kerins BSc (Hons) PGC (Tech Mgmt)Risk Services Adviser