The review is conducted against existing legislation and COVID-19 guidance and protocols.
Since launching the service, Gallagher has found that over 75% of businesses do not have sufficient preparations documented to meet Government guidelines, potentially leaving these businesses without a strong defence in the event of facing legal actions, insurance claims and enforcement action by the authorities
The reasons for not meeting the expected standards varied, however most common reasons for failure included not submitting an acceptable risk assessment - often relating to inadequate checklists; not interpreting the Government guidelines correctly, and; a lack of detail on how the business plans to control the risk including employee education and PPE related plans.
The pressure on businesses, and their directors, officers and shareholders to return to profitability, while maintaining health and safety compliance, is substantial. However, businesses that are planning to reopen their business have a legal responsibility to protect their employees and other people on site.
The implications of not preparing properly, or being able to evidence the steps taken are significant. It could leave businesses open to claims by employees or visitors in the event there is an outbreak of COVID-19 that can be traced back to the premises and, businesses that have not followed them properly, run the risk of enforcement by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) or the local council.
There is also an emerging issue exacerbating the situation. Some third party solicitors are proactively looking for cases related to the pandemic, where they can represent individuals that believe they may have a claim, even if the chances of winning are mediocre. This follows a decrease in their revenues as a result of COVID-19 and the requirement to find new income. Companies that have gaps in their paperwork are easier to defeat, even if the steps they have taken meet the right standards, which could lead to them being exposed to expensive legal costs.
It is essential therefore, that businesses have assessed the risks to the health, safety and welfare of their employees and others, arising during the COVID-19 pandemic, and as the nation comes out of lockdown and usual economic activity restarts.
In order to demonstrate a duty of care has been fulfilled, the risk assessment should clearly show that, on the balance of all considerations, the controls implemented reduce the risk as low as reasonably practical. This evidence, in the form of a suitable and sufficient risk assessment, can be crucial in the defence of an insurance claim for personal injury or illness or intervention by a regulatory authority.
Neil Hodgson, Managing Director, Risk Management at Gallagher, said: “Our consultants have been working with businesses to validate their preparations. Clearly the guidelines are complex and vary depending on the type of business and the services it offers. Therefore it’s no wonder that business owners are finding it difficult to navigate some of the steps they are required to put in place to protect them from financial and reputational damage.
“Our health and safety consultants will work alongside management to review actions taken and advise accordingly. If the steps are correct then the documentation will be validated. In the event that the risk assessment is not considered suitable or sufficient, the consultant will provide a summary of the areas requiring improvement. Having a validated and successfully implemented COVID-19 risk assessment will enhance a business’s mitigation and defensibility should a COVID-19 incident occur at the workplace, and avoid further potential repercussions.”
In response to the COVID-19 outbreak Gallagher has also been supporting clients with anti-viral disinfecting services that are suitable for application to both property and vehicles. The service uses hospital grade disinfectant that has anti-viral properties for up to seven days.
These cleaning services are intended to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and enable essential business operations to continue whilst providing customers and employees with increased confidence in the safety of their environment in these difficult times.
The service can be used to treat both vehicles, plus domestic and commercial properties and the treatment time depends on the size of the building, vehicle and the amount of ventilation present. A domestic property is likely to take approximately one hour and office or commercial premises from two hours. Misting treatments are often quicker than traditional deep cleaning services and rooms can be used as quickly as 10 minutes after the application.
There is no requirement to do anything prior to us attending, we only ask for clear access around the property or premises. And our trained technicians, who are all DBS checked, use specialist equipment and protective clothing.
To discuss either of these services please contact Neil Hodgson or speak to your local Gallagher contact.
- From 18 May – 30 June: 110 of 145 businesses failed, equal to 75.86%.