It’s nothing to do with Brexit

There was a time when insurance premiums followed a well-trodden cycle. Premiums would decrease based on competition and then a ‘hard market’ would follow (broker speak for rapidly rising premiums: 20%, 50%, 100%, 200% – big numbers) as a result of insurance companies desperately trying to get more money into the pot. It’s a time when brokers tell their clients that their renewal premium has risen by just 50% but not to worry, it could have been much worse!

The root cause of this problem is simply GCSE economics – the market forces of supply and demand.

But over the last 10 years the cycle has disappeared, or so we thought. Premiums remained static (or fell slightly) as competition was rife. We cautioned clients that the dam would break at some point, but they didn’t. We began to wonder if the algorithms and financial models used by insurers had developed to a point where losses could be accurately predicted and premiums set accordingly. So, had the cycle of the hard and soft market disappeared?

Afraid not. The bad news is the hard market is back, but only for some sectors. Professional Indemnity has seen the biggest impact.

The Grenfell disaster sent shock-waves through the insurance market. Any business engaged in the design and build sector is seeing significant increases in premiums allied to restrictions in cover. Small increases for some – “just 20% but not to worry, it could have been much worse” – up to 100% for others. The worst pain being reserved for those involved in the design, specification or installation of cladding, particularly to high rise buildings. The fire is now spreading; Professional Indemnity cover for solicitors is seeing similar rising premiums.

So, will the fire spread further? It’s difficult to predict. It’s all about supply and demand. When insurers see losses mounting in one country they tend to deploy their limited capital in another country where returns are better. It’s a vicious circle; losses mount, capacity reduces and premiums increase.

There is of course one silver lining; when premiums rise so steeply, profitability is quickly restored, capacity is returned to the market and once again competition amongst insurer serves to drive down premiums. The return of that well-trodden cycle? Perhaps.

So, what can you do to alleviate the problem? What can we do between us to alleviate the problem?

Well, two things really. Plan ahead. We will guide you through the process at the earliest opportunity. Forewarned is forearmed. But that aside, the message is the same as ever. Those who claim less, pay less. A lot less in a hard market. “It’s only a 25% increase but don’t worry, it could have been worse” is the kind of message we deliver for those who ‘claim less’. Yes, I know it doesn’t sound great but the alternative message is not worth repeating.

Managing your risk can take many forms. From managing safety, to checking contract conditions, to managing culture. The list is endless. Whatever it is, be proactive.

Talk to us now. We can’t stop the cycle of hard and soft markets but we can alleviate some of its worst excesses.

Oh, and one last thing, it’s nothing to do with Brexit.

By Ian Laycock FCIIChartered Insurance Broker – Group CEO

Be proactive and audit your workplace

Do you use accident statistics to judge your health and safety performance?

Accident statistics can provide a good indication that you’re on the right track. Low accident rates are good! Analysing trends over time can show where you may have problems and allows you to implement measures to correct them. However, there is a problem with using accident statistics to measure performance: It’s a reactive measure and cannot change what has already happened.

So, what can we do to prevent incidents before they occur?

One of the best ways of measuring health and safety performance is to look at what you’re doing now. Auditing is a proactive method to measure your performance which can be very effective in improving health and safety standards. Auditing may sound complicated, but it can be proportionate to your workplace’s requirements. There are different types of auditing and here’s a few examples:

  • Safety tours are a simple walk around your premises noting areas for improvement or good performance. They can be long or short depending on time constrains and can cover the whole premises or just a small portion. Where possible problems can be resolved at the time or noted for later action.


  • Health and safety inspections sound a little more formal but are really a safety tour where we create a more detailed report. Again, areas for improvement and good performance can be recorded. Photos can be used with a short description, action points, who is nominated to complete the action and by when. This is a great way of providing information in a format that is easy to digest.


  • Health and safety audits are more formal yet. They can cover all areas of your business, including health and safety policies, risk assessments, work procedures and other documentation etc. Audits can be tailored to your business requirement and be specific to your industry. Generally, a formal report with recommendations for improvements is created.  These may be carried out in-house by your own staff or you can enlist the help of ProAktive – Auditing is normally built into the service we offer our clients.

Auditing can be carried out by individuals or teams and be carried out on a planned cycle to cover all areas of your business. An effective auditing programme can involve all of your employees and is a great way of getting employees involved in health and safety.

Auditing does not necessarily require a lot of training, however attending a training course, such as the IOSH Managing Safety course, is ideal to provide background information and the skills required for carrying out simple audits in your workplace.

Whichever type of auditing you choose to carry out, auditing provides a proactive way to measure your performance and identify opportunities for improvement. Don’t forget to praise good performance as this is a great way of encouraging employees to work safely and can help to improve the overall health and safety culture in your workplace.

If you would like more information or some help you can contact us on 01302 341 344 or -0114 243 9914.

Ainslie Johnson Grad IOSHRisk Consultant


Holiday pay calculation nightmare continues to evolve

A recent case heard in the Court of Appeal has rejected an Employers Appeal that they did not underpay a part time, term- time worker in respect of their holiday pay.

In Brazel v The Harpur Trust,  the Court of Appeal found in favour of the Employee. The original case saw Brazel challenge the way their employer had calculated their holiday pay, which had resulted in an underpayment. Brazel was a term time worker

and worked part time hours and his employer calculated his holiday pay using the method of 12.07% of hours worked during the previous term (a calculation which is regularly used for workers who do not work the same  hours and which equates to the statutory 5.6 weeks holiday entitlement).

However, the court ruled that the Working Time Regulations and the Employment Rights Act required the employer to calculate a ‘weeks pay’ based on an average earned over a 12 week period and based on this equation, Brazel’s holiday entitlement worked out at 17.5%.The Employer cannot discard this method and use their own.

This is a useful case for all businesses who work based on term time contracts. If you would like any further advice on this subject or any other HR matter, please give our HR Consultancy Team a call on 01302 341 344.

By Jodi Cooling MBA Dip CIIGroup Operations Director and HR Consultant

Mental Health First Aid 2 Day Course in association with Westfield Health

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is an internationally recognised training course developed by Mental Health First Aid England. It is the mental health equivalent of physical first aid and is designed to raise the awareness of mental health in the workplace and reduce the stigma surrounding mental health issues.

Having a qualified Mental Health First Aider in the workplace provides a point of contact for an employee who is experiencing a mental health issue or emotional distress. This interaction could range from having an initial conversation through to supporting the individual to get appropriate help. In a crisis, Mental Health First Aiders can spot the signs of mental ill health and are valuable in providing early support for someone who may be developing a mental health issue.


The two day Mental Health First Aid training course teaches practical skills that can be used every day, including being able to recognise the signs and symptoms of mental health issues and feel confident guiding people towards the right professional support.


Course Benefits:

  • Gives a deeper understanding of the issues that impact on and relate to people’s mental health
  • Raises awareness and mental health literacy
  • Reduces stigma around mental health
  • Boosts knowledge and confidence in dealing with mental health issues
  • Promotes early intervention which enables recovery
  • Creates a more positive and supportive workplace culture


Thursday 17th and Friday 18th October 2019

Location: ProAktive House, Sidings Court, White Rose Way, Doncaster, DN4 5NU.

Time: 08:45 registration and refreshments and 17:00 finish, both days.

£325 + VAT per person including lunch and refreshments.


To book your place please call our HR Team on 01302 341 344 or email



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


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.


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