A look back at some interesting cases and claims that affected local councils in 2019.
A council in Hampshire were fined £1.4m by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), with costs of £130,632, after a six year old girl climbed onto a cast iron bollard which unfortunately was unsecured causing her to fall to the cobbles below suffering serious life changing head injuries.
An investigation by the HSE discovered that the 69kg bollard was damaged and not appropriately secured. The matter had been reported to the council prior to the incident and monthly inspections had failed to spot the defect.
In addition to the above fine there will be a large civil claim. The civil claim will be picked up by the insurers but the £1.4m fine will have to be paid by the council themselves.
It is imperative that your council has a programme of inspection, maintenance and repair to prevent incidents like this happening. It is often a condition of your Insurance policy to have an inspection programme and process for reporting damage or defects and a requirement to get them rectified as soon as possible otherwise a claim may not be paid.
Parish Online can help you map and keep track of your assets and maintenance programmes using their new asset register. BHIB Councils Insurance are currently offering a free Parish Online subscription to Councils who sign up to a 3 year agreement.
A council suffered impact damage to one of their properties when it was struck by a lorry. Due to the councils buildings being under-insured (by approximately 50%) the insurers would only pay for half of the £10,000 repair costs. Luckily a full recovery was made from the motor insurers of the lorry otherwise the council would have been £5,000 out of pocket.
It is important to make sure your buildings are adequately insured and reflect the rebuild value and not necessarily the property valuation. BHIB Councils Insurance offers building valuation services which in some circumstances are funded 50% by the insurer.
In Leicestershire a local council has received 3 claims from cyclists injured whilst attempting to cycle through a ford which, they allege was very slippy and there was no alternative method for them to cross the ford on their cycles. The injuries sustained by the 3 cyclists included a fractured pelvis, a broken hip and a dislocated shoulder. The photograph below shows the location, we are awaiting the outcome of the claims investigations by the Insurer.
It is important that all risks within your council boundary are assessed. Appropriate action can then be taken to minimise risk and claims against your council. This may have included erecting signage in this case to highlight risks to the public which, may or may not have helped to prevent these incidents.
Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome
A Hertfordshire council has been fined £100,000 by the HSE for exposing seven grounds maintenance workers to Hand Arm Vibration syndrome caused by excessive use of power tools.
An investigation by the HSE found that the council had neither adequately planned its working methods nor trained or informed employees on the risks to their health. Furthermore, the council did not limit the duration or magnitude of exposure to vibration and failed to put in place suitable health surveillance to identify problems at any early stage.
If you would like to discuss free Parish Online subscriptions, buildings valuations or any other aspect of Insurance or risk management do not hesitate to drop us a line at email@example.com , or call our dedicated BHIB Councils team on 0330 013 0036.
Brian Brookes – Risk Manager, BHIB Insurance Brokers
Specialist Insurance for Local Councils
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