Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to the newest version of your browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of Construction News, please enable cookies in your browser.

Welcome to the Construction News site. As we have relaunched, you will have to sign in once now and agree for us to use cookies, so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Insuring preparation for workplace fatalities

Your Spotlight feature on health and safety (CN, November 1) highlighted the emotional cost of fatal site accidents.

It’s clearly not a situation any manager wants to face, but one that must be prepared for. As your article so correctly states, “no company can ever hope to eliminate risk entirely”.

The extent to which you can prepare for the emotional impact of workplace fatalities is debatable. However, fatal accidents inevitably result in an investigation to determine whether there was any breach of the duty of care owed to the deceased, and this is something that can be anticipated and prepared for.

Under current legislation, individual managers are placed under the spotlight. But from April 2008, when the new Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Bill comes into force, the ability to prosecute companies will be increased significantly if negligence is proved.

In either case, the threat of prosecution comes with significant financial implications. Aside from the emotional stress of such a case, mounting a defence can incur significant legal costs, in some cases enough to risk the liquidity of the company. It’s a burden managers should not have to face.

It is therefore essential that individuals in a position of responsibility are protected. Insurance to cover Directors and Officers Liability is common place, but there is increasing evidence to suggest that standard policies often exclude items deemed essential to those in the construction industry, in particular those relating to bodily injury.

We urge everyone to check their policies and make sure that are adequately protected. Insurance is never a substitute health and safety best practice. But in the event of a tragic accident, it will significantly reduce the financial burden, leaving you to concentrate on assisting the individuals involved.

Andy Dutton PG Dip
Powell Insurance