For Business

Notifying all businesses of changes to HSE sentencing

By Emma Drew

February 25, 2016

Notifying all businesses of changes to HSE sentencing

From February 2016 new sentencing guidelines for health and safety offences came into force which means from now on fines will be significantly higher than before and some larger companies can expect to pay fines in excess of £1 million.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) operates a Fee for Intervention (FFI) cost recovery scheme, which was initially introduced on 1st October 2012 to place more responsibility on businesses, organisations and duty holders to comply with health and safety laws. Before the new changes these investigations were funded by the taxpayer.

Businesses found liable of breaking Health and Safety laws face a fee for recovery of the HSE’s services, including inspection, investigation and taking enforcement action. In addition, custodial sentences could be imposed on the individual if their negligent actions have been found to have resulted in the injury or death of another employee.

The new guidelines will focus on the risk that has been created, rather than the actual damage caused and investigate whether the risk was deliberate or accidental. Fines will then be issued based on the company’s annual turnover.

Organisations who are compliant with the law, or where a breach is not material, will not be charged for a (FFI) for any work that HSE does with them. A material breach will be granted if a HSE inspector believes there has been a contravention of health and safety law that requires them to issue a notice in writing to the duty holder.

A breach includes:

  • Operating a business with poorly fitted machinery
  • Exposing employees to hazardous materials
  • Failing to apply current health and safety working practices which could endanger your staff
  • Not arranging for your staff to have the correct training

Who does it apply to?

Fee for Intervention applies to duty holders including, employers and self-employed business owners who put employees or members of the public at risk, and some individuals acting in a capacity other than as an employee, e.g. partners.

It also includes:

  • Public and limited companies
  • General, limited and limited liability partnerships; and
  • Crown and public bodies
  • Charities, voluntary organisations, sports governing bodies and clubs are not exempt.

How much would I need to pay if found liable?

Since its introduction the fee payable by duty holders found to be in material breach of the law is £124 per hour and any additional costs based on the amount of time it takes HSE to identify and conclude its regulatory action. The new sentencing guidelines have seen fees increase significantly with the average cost of an invoice issued under FFI being in excess of £700, with companies in the manufacturing sector being hit the hardest.

Invoicing and debt recovery functions are carried out centrally within HSE. Inspectors are not responsible for issuing invoices or for any follow-up actions relating to non-payment of invoices. Invoices will generally be sent to duty holders every two months, within 30 days working invoicing period.

How will this affect insurance policies?

Fines are uninsurable and your Public Liability policy will not cover you in the event you are found to be in breach of health and safety law. Insurers may need to review and amend their policy wordings to identify whether it includes prosecution costs for regulatory proceedings.

It is advisable you keep a copy of all of your health and safety practices and procedures as evidence of your company’s compliance should you face a prosecution by the HSE.

How can we help?

For more information on managing your risk more effectively or to review your current liability policy, please contact your usual Perkins Slade representative, alternatively contact us on 0121 698 8000 or email info@perkins-slade.com

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Assessing the safety needs of female business travellers abroad

By Emma Drew

January 18, 2016

Assessing the safety needs of female business travellers abroad

While the signing of that important contract might be the main priority for many business travellers, the importance of safety whilst abroad should not be over looked.

The safety needs of employees who travel abroad for work is a growing concern for many organisations and in particular the safety of female employees (as more than half of the business trips taken last year were made by women).

As an employer, you have a duty of care to ensure all of your employees are safe when travelling abroad for business purposes, whilst taking the specific needs of female employees in consideration.

Practical safety tips for female business travellers:

Before you travel:

  • Do some background research into the destination you are travelling to.
  • Have there been any recent political disturbances in that country.
  • Assess the terror threat level for that country on the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO).
  • Visit your doctor for any necessary vaccinations before travelling.
  • Book a hotel in a safe location, ideally with a 24 hour security desk.
  • Carry lightweight luggage to assist if you need to get to safety quickly.

Cultural awareness:

  • Assume an appropriate dress code (conservative clothing).
  • Unmarried female travellers should consider wearing a wedding ring to help deter unwanted male attention.
  • Research local customs to assess whether handshakes or eye contact is appropriate or if it is acceptable for a woman to be seen in public with a male colleague, for instance.

When you arrive at your destination:

  • Test the locks on your hotel door to ensure they work correctly.
  • Bring your own door jamming equipment or door alarm for extra security.
  • Ask a security officer to help you unload your bags from your car if alone.
  • Find out how to dial to an outside number from your hotel room.
  • Leave a “do not disturb” sign outside your door.
  • Never give out your room number to strangers.
  • Keep your passport or a photocopy of it in the hotel safe along with other travel documentation and some spare cash.

During your visit:

  • Assess the safety of the local transport system; book taxis from a reputable company recommended by the hotel or find out if you can hire a car.
  • Keep a mobile phone with you at all times with the number of your hotel stored.
  • Use a discreet GPS map on your phone to avoid appearing lost.
  • Carry a phrase book with you to communicate with locals if you need help.
  • Walk around in large groups of people to avoid being seen alone.
  • When at a bar keep an eye on your drink.
  • Carry as few valuables as possible.
  • Avoid wearing shiny gold jewellery that could entice thieves.
  • Carry a personal alarm in case you run into trouble to alert help to you.
  • Wear a cross bag over your shoulder and keep zipped compartments in front of you.

A comprehensive business travel insurance policy will provide cover for medical expenses, lost baggage, money, trip cancellation and travel assistance services.

How can we help?

For more information, please speak to your usual Perkins Slade contact or call us on 0121 698 8000 and ask to speak to a member of the Corporate Team or email corporate@perkins-slade.com.

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Britain bans “Back to the future” inspired hoverboards

By Emma Drew

October 21, 2015

Britain bans “Back to the future” inspired hoverboards

Do you remember in Back to the Future Part Two, when in 1989 Marty McFly fled from the bad guys on a levitating hoverboard? Well jump twenty years into the future and hoverboards have finally arrived!

Although they may not technically hover above the ground, retailers say they are expected to become this year’s most sought after Christmas present. Due to their popularity amongst celebrities and their compact size, this personal transportation device is the futuristic alternative to the car.

After waiting nearly three decades for such an invention to be developed,  The Crown Prosecution Service in agreement with The Department for Transport (DfT) has quashed all those wannabe Marty McFly’s dreams following its decision for Britain to ban all hoverboards from use on public pavements, roads and open parks (to comply with section 72 of the Highways Act 1835). In the UK, hoverboards and scooters are prohibited from shopping centres, airports and railway stations, unless permission has been granted from the landowner to use such transport devices on private property.

The ban has stemmed from a case back in 2011 when a man was fined £75 for riding his Segway device (considered to be a motor vehicle) on a public pavement. As Segways do not meet the criteria of the European community whole vehicle type approval (ECWVTA), they are not deemed legal for road use and fail to meet a list of safety conditions. However, some argue that while hoverboards were not intended for road use, they should not be classed as a motor vehicle or come under road traffic legislation.

In a more recent incident, a London fire brigade were called out to attend two fires caused after a hoverboard had been left to charge unattended. An investigation into the fire raised concerns over the safety of the plugs supplied with the device, which did not appear to provide a fuse or comply with the UK’s standard plug which is what mostly likely lead to the device overheating and catching fire.

The ban has further raised questions amongst hoverboard owners over why mobility vehicles are allowed on public pavements but hoverboards aren’t. According to the Highway Code, mobility vehicles are considered safe to use in public, provided they travel at a speed of 4mph on pavements and 8mph on roads.

Hoverboards on the other hand, travel at a maximum speed of 9mph which slightly exceeds the speed limit deemed as safe for use on public roads and pavements; carrying the risk of causing an injury to a member of the public, which could lead to potential public liability issues. Also mobility vehicles are considered a necessity to aid someone with limited mobility to get from one place to another, whereas hoverboards are viewed as a toy due to their novel nature.

So where can you ride your hoverboard? At present, countries such as the US, France, Germany, Ireland and Italy are more tolerant to Segways and currently permit the use of hoverboards on pavements.

Any motor vehicle used on public roads needs to be licenced, registered and insured. To use such a device the user would need to provide a full driving licence, tax registration and insurance cover. However, following the ban making hoverboards illegal to ride in public, owners of the device cannot purchase insurance cover for hoverboards as they don’t comply with UK and EU road safety standards.

How can we help?

For further information please contact your usual Perkins Slade representative or call us on 0121 698 8000.

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Share Driving Licence – Changes to the check code

By Emma Drew

October 1, 2015

Share Driving Licence – Changes to the check code

 

Following on from the blog posted in June 2015, alerting motorists to the abolition of the paper counterpart driving licence as motoring records went digital, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) have made further changes to the Share Driving Licence service.

The service enables UK drivers to create a unique check code which they can share with an employer, insurer or a vehicle hire company to access information stored on their licence.

The service has been in the public domain since June 8th 2015, following the abolition of the driving licence counterpart. According to the DVLA, the service has proven to be very popular, having been used over 1.4 million times, generating a customer satisfaction rating of 87.2%.

Since its launch, the DVLA has gathered customer feedback on the new service to assess how the system can be further improved. Furthermore, the responses have highlighted that 72 hours to issue a check code simply isn’t long enough, with many users in favour of a longer validity period.

As a consequence, the DVLA has extended the validity period to 21 days. Car hire companies and employers will still need to obtain the last eight digits of the driver’s licence number to redeem the code. As a user of the system you have complete control over who can view your personal driving records and the check code can be cancelled at any time.

The DVLA intend to review the system again in three months’ time and will further measure customer feedback following the new changes.

For more information please visit DVLA Digital Services.

 

How can we help?

For more information please contact your usual Perkins Slade representative or for motor insurance advice contact Nigel Hayden, Development Executive.

T: 0121 698 8152

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Trampolines should be treated with trepidation, following an increase in insurance injury claims.

By Emma Drew

September 30, 2015

Trampolines should be treated with trepidation, following an increase in insurance injury claims.

While trampolines may be a fun and popular way to exercise, they also come with a set of safety implications and high insurance costs.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RosPA) has suggested garden trampolines and bouncy castles are the most common causes of domestic sports injuries in children aged under fourteen, followed by trees and climbing frames.

According to Insurers, some accidents resulting in injury claims still occurred even though children were under adult supervision. However, despite the safety risks surrounding trampolines, some parents fail to have adequate insurance cover in place. In some cases parents have been fined up to £100,000 when another child was injured after playing on a trampoline during a home garden party, which their insurance policy didn’t fully cover.

The fault can also fall to the manufacturer of the trampoline for providing equipment deemed unsuitable for use. Therefore, the (RosPA) are working with manufacturers to improve safety measures.

Ashleigh Gwilliam, Corporate Account Executive, Perkins Slade commented:

“Trampolines do come with a high risk, especially when being used by an “amateur gymnast”. However, it is possible to minimise your risk with good installation and regular maintenance. (RosPA) offer great advice on maximising the safety of trampoline activity but when used on a commercial scale, an approved installer should be used to ensure compliance to the relevant health and safety laws. Trade bodies such as The Sports and Play Construction Association (SAPCA) and the API Outdoors are a great place to find a suitable contractor.  In addition, the importance of good risk management and a reliable insurance policy should not be discounted”.

Some of the most common trampoline injuries include:

  • Broken bones
  • Sprains
  • Cuts and bruises
  • Concussion and head injuries
  • Permanent injuries to head and neck
  • Long-term damage to bones and soft tissue
  • In some cases paralysis or death

Safety measures should include:

  • Having an adult present to supervise at all times
  • No more than one person playing on the trampoline
  • Children under the age of six should not be allowed on trampolines
  • Somersaults or stunts should be discouraged
  • Advise children to jump in the middle of the trampoline and steer clear of the edges
  • Avoid placing trampolines on hard surfaces like concrete
  • To provide adequate protective cushioning on the ground or net enclosures
  • Carry out regular maintenance checks on the equipment and make repairs where necessary.

Almost all children’s play activities carry a level of risk but by following these simple safety precautions this is the first step towards preventing an injury from happening.

How can we help?                                        

For more information on trampoline and public liability insurance cover please contact:

Ashleigh Gwilliam, Corporate Account Executive, Perkins Slade

T: 0121 698 8118

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Motor insurance shake-up to affect most UK businesses

By Emma Drew

September 18, 2015

VNUK 1

Guest blog from James Harvey, BLM

Landmark court case will have far-reaching consequences for businesses across all sectors in the UK. Policyholders must act now to be prepared. 

To some, Vnuk may seem nothing but an unknown acronym. In fact, it’s the name of a landmark Europe-wide court case that’s set to change the future of motor insurance. It’s because of this case that the UK government will very soon have to change the rules about motor insurance law to bring it in to line with the judgement.

The Vnuk case addressed what accidents and risks have to be covered by compulsory motor insurance, and will affect your business’ insurance arrangements, regardless of the sector in which you operate.

The Vnuk case 

On 13 August 2015 it was exactly eight years since a tractor knocked over the ladder on which Damijan Vnuk was standing while loading hay into the upper floor of a barn in rural Slovenia. He sued the tractor driver for compensation for his injuries. Eight years on, the ramifications of his claim are still shaking up insurance laws across the EU.

This imminent change will affect insurance arrangements of a huge number of businesses operating in a vast array of sectors. It will impact retailers, manufacturers, leisure companies and hoteliers, not to mention utility organisations, waste management, logistics, construction and the motorsport industry to name just a few.

We are advising policyholders to act now to ensure they are prepared for the transfer of risk affecting their insurance arrangements. This is because some of the incidents currently covered under employers’ liability (EL) and public liability (PL) insurance policies will have to switch over and be picked up by a motor policy. The current Road Traffic Act will have to be amended in Parliament.

When is a ‘vehicle’ not a vehicle?

The law change is very likely to bring into scope a range of off-road vehicles and situations that would not previously have been included in motor policies, unless the Government makes a special exemption for specific types of vehicle when it consults about the changes. We expect that to take place later this year.

This essentially means that any vehicles used in off-road settings will now require insurance cover that complies with the Road Traffic Act. We’re talking about bringing vehicles such as motorised wheelchairs, mobility scooters, quad bikes, pallet trucks, forklift trucks, diggers, bulldozers, vehicles used to transport goods within warehouses and even floor cleaners in use throughout factories under the umbrella of your motor (fleet) policy.

Government to move quickly

Although there is no change in underlying claims risk – corporate insured’s will remain liable for their employees’ negligent driving, whether on or off-road – the insurance differences are important. Unlike EL and PL policies, motor policies legally have to provide unlimited cover for personal injury claims. Also any insurer offering a policy for Road Traffic Act risks has to be a member of the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) and has to pay in so that the MIB can meet claims caused by uninsured and untraced motorists – a cost that EL and PL insurers don’t have. Not all insurers currently covering off-road and special vehicle risks are members of the MIB.

The changes outlined here will not take effect until the Road Traffic Act is amended in Parliament and will apply only for claims happening after that. But we expect things to move fairly quickly and for the Government to start consulting about how to make the changes well before the end of this year. The consultation is expected to start later in the year and should be regarded as a great opportunity for insurers and other stakeholders to put forward constructive solutions. Following the consultation, it is entirely possible that the Act could be altered in the first half of 2016.

For more information on the VNUK case visit BLM – Red Campaign

How can we help?

For further information on motor insurance contact Nigel Hayden, Development Executive

T: 0121 698 8152

 

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