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When does employers liability insurance not provide cover?

BY David McCabe
Health & Safety

Probus Creative Housewares and its managing director have been fined almost £300,000 after an employee sustained life-changing injuries in a fall from storage racking. The company’s insurer had refused it cover because of poor safety practice.

The worker had used a pallet raised on a forklift truck to access the storage rack. He was standing with one foot on the racking and the other on the pallet when the pallet gave way.

The council’s investigation also found that the company’s insurance provider had refused to renew its policy due to safety failings and a lack of compliance.

Key findings of the investigation were: an overreliance by the company on individuals with no formal experience or competence in health and safety; considerable pressure placed on employees to quickly turn around deliveries and dispatch orders with minimal mechanical handling assistance; inadequate and unsafe racking; individuals placed in positions of responsibility with little knowledge or experience; and condoning of unsafe working practices by senior managers.

Probus admitted breaching s 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work (HSW) Act, and Regulations 3(1)(a) and 13(2)(b) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations in failing to carry out suitable and sufficient risk assessments and not providing adequate training. It also pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations over its failure to ensure that the work at height was properly planned, supervised and carried out safely.

The company was sentenced to a fine of £240,000 with £20,000 costs. Its managing director pleaded guilty to breaching s 2(1) of the HSW Act and Regulation, 3 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations.  He was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay £10,000 costs.

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