After almost two years of uncertainty and disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, it finally feels like we’re starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel. The Government’s latest update suggests that should current trends continue, with no further variants coming to light, all coronavirus-related restrictions could be lifted by the end of February across England, and likely Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland too. As the world starts to return to some form of normality, it’s likely that inspections and other important warranty and insurance requirements may have slipped slightly, so it’s a good time to remind you of some important things to help protect you and your business.
These should take place at least every five years (some higher risk trades may require be at least every 3 years). Covid lockdowns and previous working from home mandates may mean you missed an inspection, so check if you are up to date, or if you need to book an inspection. A certificate will be issued in relation to any fixed wiring inspection and will be a requirement of your insurance policy, therefore is not optional, and all inspections must be completed by an approved NICIEC approved contractor, making sure any improvements/requirements raised by the inspection have been completed to a satisfactory standard.
Waste and Housekeeping
Some insurers will have specific conditions when it comes to housekeeping, and not adhering to their criteria or terms could invalidate your policy. For example, an insurer may require you to have all waste removed from your building within a certain amount of time and/or store it in a particular type of waste bin, away from the building and perimeter boundary (3m or 5m). Your cover may be subject to certain alarms being properly maintained and fully functioning, with police or approved central station monitoring and response at all times. Flat roof maintenance inspections are another area to be aware of. It is really important that you understand any terms imposed so you can be sure your policy is not invalidated. If you are unsure about any of the terms, or cannot meet them, you must speak to your broker so they can liaise with the insurer on your behalf to ensure you have the protection you need.
We know many of our clients are experiencing significant challenges when it comes to arranging the collection/disposal of pallets, empty drums and cardboard, etc. Previously tried and tested systems you had in place before the pandemic disruption may well need reviewing to ensure you are still complying with the terms of your Insurance protection. Similarly, allowing third parties to use your bins for waste that breaches policy conditions could leave you exposed. If you are unsure, please speak to your usual Towergate advisor.
LOLER Thorough Examinations & PUWER Pressure Vessels
Any lifting equipment you have will need to have regular Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER) thorough examinations. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) advise that thorough examinations should be carried out by approved competent person:
- Before use for the first time
- After assembly and before use at each location
- Regularly while in service (every 6 to 12 months depending on the equipment
- Following exceptional circumstances (liable to jeopardise the safety of equipment)
Again, many insurers will only provide cover if these statutory requirements are met, so you need to check that your equipment has been recently examined in line with the requirements. Pressure Vessels – Under the PUWER regulations, commonly air receivers and storage tanks designed to operate under pressure, also require regular professional inspection.
The HSE guidelines advise that racking inspections should be done annually by a Storage Equipment Manufacturers Association (SEMA) approved racking inspector (a SARI). Again, it is likely that Covid lockdowns and staff rota management will have affected the ability to get these done annually, but if your policy has terms around this, you need to get up to date to maintain your protection.
Visual recorded racking inspections should also be completed regularly as part of any housekeeping audits, making sure any damage or defects are being recorded immediately, with any repairs completed by a competent approved contractor. More information can be found at https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/hsg76.htm and https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg412.pdf
New Fork-Lift Truck Drivers
It is likely that your insurer will have some requirement around the induction and ongoing training/professional development of any fork-lift truck drivers in your business, especially those that are new drivers. Your broker can explain any requirements that are in place so you can ensure you are meeting them, or a conversation can be had with your insurer if you do something different. Checking this may only take a few hours, but the advantage would be significant. It could be the difference between being able to claim on your policy in the event of a claim, or not.
Alarm and Fire Extinguisher Warranties
Do check the servicing of both your intruder and fire alarms are up to date and that you report any change in confirmed emergency response status to your usual advisor. All policies state if you have alarms, they should be operational whether specifically requested by the insurers themselves or not.
Fire extinguishers should be located throughout the premises in line with your fire risk assessment and be subject to inspection by an approved contractor, making sure all inspections are up to date.
Risk Assessment/Safe Systems of Work/PPEs
Finally – and by no means least – do check your risk assessments, safe systems of work and PPE provision are still relevant and are updated and communicated on a signed receipt basis as appropriate. To ensure you have evidence, a PPE register that staff sign on the issue of PPE is best practice. We would be happy to help and have a variety of solutions ranging from access to our online health & safety platform through to introductions to specialist health & safety, business continuity and employment contract experts.
There may be other conditions attached to your policy depending on your trade and insurer. Ask your usual Towergate adviser if you’re unsure about any policy conditions or warranties to ensure there are no surprises should you need to make a claim. Whilst it is possible your policy will only contain some of these specific requirements, we do recommend that all of these are reviewed to help minimise a claim occurring in the first place and in that respect, there is no substitute for reading the policy clauses themselves.
We are always on hand to assist, advise and support you in these matters
This information is based on sources that we believe are reliable and should be understood as general risk management and insurance information only. It is not intended to be taken as advice with respect to any specific or individual situation and cannot be relied upon as such. If you wish to discuss your specific requirements, please do not hesitate to contact your usual Towergate Insurance Brokers adviser.
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About the author
Mark Brannon Cert CII is a respected industry leader with over 17 years’ industry experience in a variety of roles within the business insurance sector. He works across a wide spectrum of insurance product and policy development, delivery and optimisation for clients, including claims, insurer relationships, marketing and communications, and risk management.