The Compensation Culture

Peninsula Team

November 18 2009

We often hear about the “compensation culture†and regularly see adverts for “No Win-No Fee†on our television screens. The simple question any business needs to ask, should be “is it something we need to concern ourselves with or notâ€? The answer to that question depends on the answer to the following:

“Could it happen to my companyâ€?

To determine whether or not the answer may be yes, and therefore the business could have a problem, the business management team needs to consider a few simple matters.

Have you effective policies and procedures in place? Do you train your employees to carry out the work tasks you expect? If you expect employees to use equipment have they been trained to do so? Is the equipment maintained? Is it inspected in accordance with statutory requirements? Are any safety features in place and working? Is your working environment clean, free of airborne pollutants, etc? Are your floors and walkways free of obstruction? Have you appropriate signage? The list could go on.

If the answer to some or all of these questions is No’ then you are at risk from a claim for compensation should one of your employees or a visitor to your premises be injured whilst at work. Not only are you at risk of a claim but you may also be at risk from your insurers deciding not to pay out, or to only partially compensate your company for any damages that are levied against you.

The list as you will determine raises nothing overly complicated. In fact the vast majority of the examples above, a large number of progressive and safety aware employers will say, are nothing other than common-sense and good business/employee management.

However if you do not have any systems in place to help you effectively manage health and safety in the workplace the likelihood of an incident costing the company will be significantly increased. When any legal practitioner first gets involved with a possible claim the first letter sent to the employer usually asks very simple questions, the answers to which help them determine their probability of successfully winning the claim. An employer’s ability to successfully defend any challenge will be assisted significantly if you can produce a current and up to date health and safety policy and current risk assessments for the various work activities the business undertakes. Even better if all your employees have been made aware of your safe working policies and you can demonstrate this through training records, which again are complete and up to date.

A significant number of incidents that we deal with are very simple and straight forward and easily preventable. By identifying the potential for an accident or incident and then looking to manage the work to reduce or completely eliminate the issue is sound business practice. Companies look after their finances by having in place simple procedures that are monitored/reviewed and implemented by appropriately trained staff. It is common sense. Managing health and safety issues is just the same; e.g. If you spill something on the floor that someone could slip on and they then blame you when they slip and have a resulting back injury, the simple question to be answered is why didn’t the person causing the spill clear it up.

By taking simple straight forward common-sense approaches to risks no employer should need to worry about the “No Win-No Fee†culture affecting them or their business.

If you have concerns about the health & safety policy in your business or have any queries about existing processes, call the Advice Service on 0844 892 2785, they will be happy to help.

Suggested Resources