Does the health and safety culture hamper business success?

For maCS_David Smith Zurichny years, fears about ‘health and safety’ have been seen as getting in the way of business, and sometimes have even made life difficult for us personally. Insurers have also been seen as part of the problem, getting in the way of business growth and success. This whole issue reached a head in February 2012 when the Prime Minister, David Cameron, brought together CEOs from the UK insurance industry to develop a plan to tackle the health and safety culture.

“We’re determined to turn this perception of insurance as a hindrance to business around.”

Here at Zurich, we’re determined to turn this perception of insurance as a hindrance to business around. Businesses of all sizes are playing a vital role as the UK economy recovers. Larger businesses often have lots of advice and expertise available around health and safety management. Smaller businesses, on the other hand, may need more support and that’s why insurers have been working closely with others — such as the Government and insurance brokers — to guide smaller businesses through their health and safety obligations. In so doing, they have also responded to the Prime Minister’s challenge to the industry to take action.

As well as providing plenty of guidance, Zurich has launched Virtual Consulting (VC), which is an on-line risk management tool that offers advice based on the health and safety claims that are most likely to affect a business.

“Insurers have also been involved in efforts to encourage more people to engage in volunteering with fewer worries about health and safety issues.”

Insurers have also been involved in efforts to encourage more people to engage in volunteering with fewer worries about health and safety issues. Zurich’s ‘My Community Starter’ initiative, for example, is a free, online tool to help people to get started with their own straightforward community activities. An insurance guide for volunteers has also been produced, with partners including the Money Advice Service, the National Council for Volunteering England and the British Insurance Brokers Association.

There’s another dimension to this, however. Too often, regulatory change is proposed without an awareness of how this will affect civil claims. To deal with risk issues faced by business and to bring about change, a full understanding of both regulatory and civil claims law is essential. . For example, the Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism Bill and other suggested changes on Strict Liability. If businesses, insurers and other compensators are not fully involved in the policy process, the result could be far more costly to business than was thought likely. Evidence-based policy as opposed to policy-based evidence is essential if we are to be excellent in our control of risks without stifling business and innovation.

 David W Smith is the CEO — UK General Insurance, Zurich Insurance


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