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

 

How proactive are you in your approach to safety?

Do you prioritise health and safety compliance?

For some years now, if you were found to be in material breach of health and safety law, you would have had to pay for the time it takes the HSE to identify the breach and help you needed to put things right.  This includes investigating and taking enforcement action and is called fee for intervention (FFI).

The hourly rate which organisations found to be in material breach of health and safety laws must pay to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for its time has increased from £129 to £154 per hour, with effect from 6 April 2019.

This increase in the recovery rate by almost 19.4% means that non-compliance now comes with more significant repercussions for companies.

Typically, a four days investigation is around £4,000 and a full investigation will cost tens of thousands of pounds.

This fee does not include costs incurred once a case goes to Court.

You will be required to pay any invoice sent to you within 30 days unless you’re querying or disputing.

 

For further advice or information relating to FFI, please contact me or another member of our H&S Management Team on 01302 341 344.

By Ian French CMIOSHRisk Consultant

Directors & Officers: Navigating the landscape

My hot take: Company Director = Circus Performer.

Not seriously of course, but it does involve a juggling act with various roles and responsibilities serving as flaming pins. There is a tightrope to walk.

Fortunately, insurance can provide some measure of comfort and protection to anyone occupying this role, and indeed, I write on the presumption that you already have this, or at least have a basic understanding of it. However, for the uninitiated: Directors and Officers Liability Insurance, commonly referred to as D&O, is designed to protect Directors and senior decision makers of a business against claims of wrongful conduct.

Broadly speaking, it will pay for the costs associated with defending or settling HSE investigations, employment disputes and claims arising from, but not restricted to: breach of duty/trust, negligence, defamation and pollution – this could mean almost anything! It should also be remembered that the limited liability status of a company will not necessarily act as a barrier should a claim arise.

D&O isn’t by any means a ‘silver bullet’ that allows you to act with impunity but the scope of cover it affords should make it a no-brainer for any business especially as the legal landscape is constantly changing and we are starting to see a rise in the number claims particularly in the following areas:

  • Broadening of corporate criminal liability

UK Investigations are beginning to reflect the trend towards culpability of the individual; highlighted through the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) increasing use of deferred prosecution agreements.

 

  • Tougher Stance on Insolvency

In years following recession and uncertainty more businesses have fallen victim to insolvency, with legislation since 2015 having enabled liquidators to sell claims arising from fraudulent trading to third parties, thus providing further incentive to litigate.

 

  • Robust Regulation

Lessons learnt in the collapse of high-profile companies, like BHS, have toughened the stance of The Pension Regulator in cases of insolvency. Directors are expected to be held to account, with greater scrutiny being placed on their activities leading to liquidation to avoid short falls in pension schemes.

 

  • Emerging Risks

The world of tomorrow today! We live in a globalised society, one that’s increasingly connected and has encouraged discourse and allowed certain issues (technology, environmentalist, gender) to permeate the public consciousness. Please stop and consider if your responsibilities as a Director are against this backdrop. D&O claims for environmental exposure, sexual harassment and cyber breach are becoming increasingly prominent.

Of course this is a small sample of possible claims and any of the highlighted issues can spell protracted litigation and costs.

Should you have any questions and queries over the value or scope of D&O cover please don’t hesitate to contact ProAktive.

By Simon Wright Dip CIIAccount Executive

Property Rebuild Costs

A common property owners myth:  there is a direct relationship between the rebuild cost and the market value of a property. Unfortunately this rarely works out and leaves property owners at risk of under-insurance in the event of a claim.

For example, a property in the centre of London could have a market value in the millions and a rebuild cost at a fraction of this amount.

So how much would it cost to rebuild your property?  This can also called the ‘reinstatement cost’ or ‘sum insured’ by insurers but in essence, this figure needs to be the total amount you would need to pay to rebuild your property from the ground in the event of a total loss.  This figure needs to include:

  • Building materials
  • Labour
  • VAT
  • Debris Removal costs
  • Professional Fees (surveyors/architects)

Pricing tables can be used to calculate rough rebuild costs of properties but your property might not be standard.  For example, older buildings may contain asbestos which greatly increases the debris removal costs and listed buildings often cost more to rebuild.

Insurers use the rebuild cost as the main rating factor in property owners insurance and this is the maximum amount they will pay in the event of a claim.  Most property insurances have an average condition which means that insurers will only pay a claim in proportion to the underinsurance.  For example, if you insure a property for a rebuild cost of £250,000 and it costs £500,000 to rebuild, an insurer will only pay 50% of any building claim.

To talk to us about your business insurance requirements in more detail, please contact us on 01302 341 344.

By Kate Bacon ACIICommercial Account Handler