Construction Insurance Tips - Learn From Health & Safety Mistakes

Monday, 23 November 2015, Jon Norman

Construction Insurance Tips - Learn From Health & Safety Mistakes

Despite the construction industry representing only 6 percent of the UK workforce, according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) it accounts for circa 25 percent of fatalities in the work place. 

In 2014/15 a reported 35 deaths and over 69,000 cases of injury or ill-health emanated from the construction industry.  Many of these incidents will result in either employers liability or public liability insurance claims under a Construction Insurance policy.

Annual HSE Initiative

Due to the disproportionate number of deaths, the HSE conducts an annual construction refurbishment initiative. During this period each year, inspectors visit construction sites that are working on refurbishment projects in order to identify potential risks of injury or other safety hazards.

In the 2014 HSE campaign, a staggering 35 per cent of all enforcement notices that the HSE served were for health and safety violations.

Common Safety Issues

The most common violations typically involve hazards in respect of:

  • Work at height
  • Site organisation
  • Welfare facility hazards such as toilets and washing facilities as well as changing, eating or rest areas
  • Exposure to carcinogens, such as silica and asbestos
  • Manual handling, noise and vibration
  • Exposure to other hazardous substances

Risk Management is Critical

Constructions firms cannot rely on the HSE inspections to highlight risk areas, failure to implement a structured risk management framework puts your business at risk of prosecution and Construction Insurance Liability claims.

Shopfitting Firm Learns from Mistakes

Newman Scott, a national shopfitting contractor, was found guilty of unsafe working at height practices in 2013, suffering prosecution and a fine of £9,599.  

In response, the company conducted a thorough investigation to uncover the root cause of the incident. This examination led to a complete change in the company’s health and safety culture —The changes are typical to construction firms could be benefit many firms.

The following changes were implemented to improve health and safety at Newman Scott:

  • Increased communication across all employee levels and throughout the duration of the construction project
  • Conducted regular health and safety training
  • Conducted periodic training on proper equipment and machine use
  • Submitted employees to regular competency checks
  • Provided more ownership of health and safety to employees, such as provide them with the freedom to say ‘no’ to any client or company request that they feel unsafe completing

Newman Scott Managing Director John Graham admitted that he cannot say there will be no issues in the future: “We live in an imperfect world and mistakes happen,” he says. But despite the fines and prosecution he has no regrets. “The whole process has cost the company in excess of £50,000.  We probably should have spent that before,” Graham added, “But I don’t regret it. I’d much rather spend it on a tough learning experience than on lawyers.”

Not all of these health and safety improvements will be applicable to your firm, but they do provide a basis in which to discuss your company’s health and safety culture.

For more information on the HSE campaign along with guidance and best practices, visit www.facebook.com/SaferSites#!/SaferSites.

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Insync specialises in cover for the construction industry.  We can arrange Public Liability Insurance for small contractors to large construction firms or projects. 

Request a quotation online, alternatively, why not book a review with one of our business insurance experts at a time that suits your diary.     

About the Author

Jon Norman

Jon Norman

I’m passionate about family, sport, technology and business.

In fact, I have always been fascinated by business, whether it was running the school tuck-shop or my Saturday job in the local store, I was always looking for ways to improve or view things differently.

I have enjoyed an amazing career fast approaching 25 years in the insurance industry, which has given me real insight into the challenges and opportunities faced by SME businesses in today’s ever-evolving marketplace.

I co-founded Insync Insurance, to offer companies a new way to buy and manage their business insurance. A synergy of digital servicing and personal expertise - utilising the latest technology to enhance relationships, not to replace them.

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