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As you’re likely already aware, health and safety is a hugely important legal (to an extent) and moral responsibility, and tracking your compliance can help you if an affected party files a claim against you or your business.

This blog aims to help you improve the resilience of your business in dealing with civil law claims made against you, in proportion to the level of risk involved.

Employers Liability vs Public Liability – what’s the difference?

  • If you employ any staff then you are legally required to hold an Employer’s Liability policy. Your staff are your responsibility and so any loss, damage or injury could result in them making a claim against you. Employer’s Liability covers your legal responsibility for your employees, and in the event of a claim, Employer’s Liability will cover the cost of legal expenses (depending on your policy) and the claim amount.
  • Public liability covers your responsibility to third parties. Similar to Employers’ Liability, it protects you from suffering financially if a claim is made against you or your business in respect of loss or damage to third party property or people as a result of your negligent acts. Additionally, if you believe a claim is fraudulent your insurer will help to make sure it’s investigated.

The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974

This dictates that every employer has to take precautions to ensure the health and safety of employees and other people in the vicinity who may be affected by work activities.

You will need to take reasonable steps to comply with these regulations, using the guidance and tools provided by the Health and Safety Executive to help with this aim.

Your insurer will not necessarily refuse to pay a claim or withdraw cover purely because of a breach of health and safety regulations, but it’s still important to consider them carefully.

How Do You Define An Employee?

It’s not always clear what constitutes an ‘employee’ in some sectors, a working individual may not be engaged under a contract of employment. For this reason, insurers tend to specify in their Employer’s liability policies their definition of an ‘employee’. A typical definition would be:

  • Any person employed under a contract of service or apprenticeship
  • People on work experience schemes, for example, students
  • Any person hired or borrowed from another employer including drivers or operators of hired in plant
  • Labour only subcontractors
  • Home workers.

A good rule of thumb is that anyone whose workday you manage is likely to count as an employee, because you’re responsible for their workload, but if you have questions, you can give us a call on 020 3883 7976 to discuss and one of our advisors will be happy to help.

You can read more about the differences between types of subcontractor, and your responsibilities to them here.

Required Documentation

Insurers do not generally need you to show any formal evidence that you are keeping to health and safety regulations, nor do they ask to see health and safety documents as a condition of granting insurance cover. However, although it is not a legal or insurance requirement to do so, good record keeping (for example, training records, written risk assessments etc.) may be useful if you need to defend a civil law claim.

Written Risk Assessments

If you employ fewer than five people, there is no legal need for you to complete written risk assessments, but although completing and recording risk assessments is not a legal requirement, it may help in defending any civil law claims made against you.

If you have five or more employees, it is a legal requirement that you carry out a written risk assessment before you or your employees carry out any work that risks harm. You can download templates from the Health and Safety Executive website or you can use an online tool.

Health And Safety Consultants

The law says that you must have access to competent health and safety advice – often, this is available from your own staff, but if your work is more complex you can use a health and safety consultant who is listed on the Occupational Safety and Health Consultants Register.

Other Things To Consider

  • If you’re a tradesman or professional contractor, it’s important to check your tools for any damage before and after each use, and to make sure they are always kept securely stored as this minimises the risk of any injury or accident as a result of malfunctioning equipment.
  • There is no specific legal requirement for all appliances to be tested each year, however, as you must maintain your equipment to prevent danger to yourself and others. We recommend you follow the guidance published by the HSE.
  • If you’re working at height, you insurer should be made aware of the maximum height at which you or your staff operate, and the same applies to working at depth.
  • If you work with heat, you’ll need to declare this to your broker- read more here.
  • Trade shows and exhibitions will often require you to carry out a risk assessment, however they will usually provide a template for you to do so.

For more insurance-specific advice, the Association of British Insurers’ Key Principles document: Health and Safety for Businesses and the Voluntary Sector. This is available at http://www.abi.org.uk

You can also find more guidance on the HSE website available at www.hse.gov.uk.

If you’re unsure whether you need additional cover or if you want to arrange insurance for your business, call us today on 020 3883 7976 and we will do our best to help you, alternatively, you can use our online Quote Generator.