You may have the right insurance in place for your cleaning business, but did you realise that one of the most important things you can do to ensure that you are successful in defending an insurance claim, should it happen, is to keep detailed records.
The cleaning industry is a risky industry and we deal with many personal injury claims involving slips, trips and falls from height. It is the businesses who have the most comprehensive records of their health and safety procedures who successfully defend claims.
What records do you need to keep?
Accurate, up to date and detailed documentary evidence is critical to help insurers lawyers build a suitable defence against a claim. Having the documentation to hand will enable costs to be reduced when providing a defence to a claim and detailed documentary evidence can help to successfully defend a claim.
For insurers, clients with good documentary procedures in place are seen to be the “better risks” and as such will be rewarded with premium discounts, due to the confidence that if a claim arrives there is a good chance of successful defence.
Alternatively, discovery by insurers that a client does not have relevant documentation in place may mean they must settle a claim which could have been avoided. This can result in, at best, a requirement that such documentation is produced and at worst necessitate increased premium levels or withdrawal of cover.
What can you do to ensure you have the right documentation?
- All training exercises should be documented and signed by all participants
- If working practices change or replacement equipment is purchased the training must be updated and documented accordingly
- Careful consideration should be given to the records to be kept and for how long
- Some records are required to be kept by various pieces of legislation, while others may be useful in defending legal actions
- Carry out specific risk assessments for:
- Control of Substances Hazardous to Health
- Manual Handling Operations
- Work at Height
- Records of specific risk assessments may have to be kept for a prescribed minimum period, as described under specific regulations
- If you are a business with five or more employees, you must record the significant findings of all risk assessments and they must form part of your health and safety policy
What happens if your business has an accident and incident investigation?
As soon as you are made aware of an incident it is important that you report it to your insurers, even if at the time there is no indication of a claim. This is so that they can assist in the immediate investigation of the incident and gather all required evidence and documentation from you, in preparation of a defence.
If your business is under investigation, you need to ensure that detailed records are made. These should record not only the details of the event, but all relevant finding of the investigation, including:
- Details of the accident/incident
- Details of all injuries and injured persons
- Details of all witnesses
- Causes of the accident/incident
- Keep photographic evidence if possible as this can be of assistance in defending a claim
- Details of corrective actions to prevent reoccurrence of the accident/incident
- Provision of health and safety training and all training records
In the event of more serious accidents and injuries, there are reporting requirements under RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013). RIDDOR incidents may be reported on-line or by phone. These regulations require records of reportable injuries, diseases, and dangerous occurrences to be kept. If you are an employer who must keep an accident book, the record you make to RIDDOR will be enough evidence.
So, if you know that your records aren’t up to date, ensure that you start to rectify this now. If you are unsure as to the records you need to keep, specifically for your business, we can advise you on if you already have the right documentation or if more detail is required and how to do this.