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Archive for the ‘Employers liability insurance’ Category

Injury not caused by repetitive strain.

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

A recent county court case demonstrates the importance of employers recording and maintaining records of risk assessments and health and safety training.

The claimant in the case was employed by the defendant as a manual parcel handler for just less than two years. He resigned when back pain made him unable to continue in his job. He brought proceedings against his employers alleging that a previously asymptomatic back condition had been exacerbated by his work. He claimed that the work was repetitive, had not been subject to sufficient risk assessment and that his employers had failed to provide a safe system of work.
The defendant denied liability on the basis that the job was a simple and straightforward one, had been properly risk assessed and was not repetitive. There was no previous history of any injuries arising from this work. It was accepted by both parties that the work could not have been done mechanically.

The records showed and the judge accepted that the claimant had received a significant amount of training including on manual handling and that this had been updated. There was not a formal system of breaks in place but employees could and did cover for each other on an ad hoc basis. There was inevitably some element of repetition but the injury had not been caused by this but by the claimant’s posture and his twisting while lifting, both of which he had been trained to avoid. The judge found that the defendant could not have done more to protect the claimant from injury and dismissed his claim.

For information regarding employers and public liability insurance please see the main website.

Beware corporate manslaughter

Monday, September 19th, 2011

In February 2011 Cotswold Geotechnical Holdings (GCH) became the first company to be sentenced under the new offence of Corporate Manslaughter. It has been fined £ 385,000 after being found guilty by a jury at Winchester Crown Court; an employee died when an unsupported trench collapsed in on him while taking soil samples.

Companies and organisations can be found guilty of Corporate Manslaughter if an employee dies as a result of management failures resulting in gross breach of duty of care. The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 was designed to make all employers accountable.

Some commentators have expressed disappointment that the first case concerned such a small company which does not have the size or status of the type of corporations that the new legislation was expected to capture. GCH only had eight employees at the time of the offence.

The loss of life, a large fine and negative publicity may make a significant impact on a small company. The sentence handed down by the court demonstrates the tough stance likely to be taken against any company, regardless of size, which fails to adhere to health and safety guidance.

Employer’s have a duty of care to their staff whether it be on building sites, in factories or simply ensuring their company vehicles are roadworthy and the relevant safety checks and manufacturers guidelines for maintenance have been adhered to. In the event of a workplace death, courts will now look at management systems and practices across the organisation. If proven inadequate and at fault, the company can be exposed to a charge of corporate manslaughter. This can result in an unlimited fine or in some cases a fine equivalent to a percentage of the company’s annual turnover.

Many employers and public liability insurance policies provide cover for defence costs in respect of prosecution under both the Corporate Manslaughter & Homicide Act and the Health and Safety at Work Act. Some insurers provide cover for prosecution costs awarded against the insured whereas others believe this forms part of the punishment and therefore it is against public policy to provide insurance cover.

Under your insurance policies you may not be covered if an act is deliberate or you have failed to take reasonable safety precautions. Please speak with us to understand the level of insurance cover you have or can obtain.

Tracing old EL Insurers

Friday, September 16th, 2011

Historically individuals who wanted to make a claim against a former employer in relation to injury or disease caused during their employment may have run into difficulties. This was largely due to the nature of industrial disease, such as asbestos, which can take many years to show symptoms, by which time past employers may not be able to trace who was their Employer’s Liability ( EL) Insurer at the time.

The Employer’s Liability Tracing Office ( ELTO) is an independent body that has been formed to aid the process of tracing the insurer for an employer by recording the details on it’s Employer’s Liability Database ( ELD). This ELD improves upon the previous tracing service, which relied on insurers checking against their own records.

The ELD will record :

  • Details of new and renewed EL insurance policies that incept on or after 1st April 2011.
  • Old EL policies that have new claims recorded against them.
  • Successful traces undertaken by it’s predecessor- the ABI.

The results from the search of the ELD are not proof or insurance , or proof of liability. The ELD will hold information against employers based on their unique Employer’s Reference Number ( ERN)- which will be identical to the PAYE Reference number under which their employer’s income tax and national insurance contributions are made. Insurers may also hold this information independently if these chose.

We will be contacting all our existing Employers Liability Customers over the next year to collect their ERN, in order to record sufficient information on the ELD or their insurer’s database where appropriate.


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