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SMEs offered a helping hand to simplify health and safety

As part of its Simply Safety campaign 2009, Aviva, the UK’s largest insurer, is helping expanding SMEs and new start-ups de-mystify some of the most critical health and safety issues and clarify exactly what is legally required.

With a quarter of business leaders believing their organisation will face pressures to cut health and safety budgets during the recession, Aviva is stressing that adopting health and safety best practice doesn’t have to be costly or problematic.

According to Phil Grace, liability risk manager at Aviva: "Health and safety seeks to reduce accidents and to ensure that the risk of illness, injury and death from work is kept as low as possible, but it needn’t be over-complicated. In fact, managing risk is cost effective because it will be beneficial to the business in the long run by keeping employees in work.

"Make sure a senior manager takes responsibility for managing workplace risk as this instantly raises the profile of risk management within the business. Demonstrating commitment to risk management can also provide an insurer with confidence in the business."

He says: "The first step is to make sure the right type of insurance is in place to protect the business and provide compensation in the event of a claim. Employers Liability insurance is a legal requirement if the business employs people.

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (the Management Regulations) set out what employers are required to do to manage risk under the Health and Safety at Work Act. Key requirements include carrying out a risk assessment and giving employees appropriate training.

"Training and risk assessment are the basic principles of effective health and safety practice to protect employees and the business itself. Train employees to understand any dangers they may face, how to control them and what to do in an emergency. This will ensure they work safely.
"Accidents do not just result in injury to persons but can cause reputational damage that could be harder to repair in the current economic climate.

Grace continues: "Keeping up-to-date, hard copy documentation is important and will help employers with the reviewing of risk management procedures. Such documentation is vital in the defence of liability claims."

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