Neutral Forensic Engineers are essentially a mix of traditional Forensic Engineers and Liability Risk Surveyors. As Forensic Engineers, we inspect the circumstances of accidents, for which Personal Injury claims have been made, to assess what has caused them. As Liability Risk Surveyors, we assess the risk of accidents for which negligence could attributed. As Neutral Forensic Engineers, we endeavour to prevent the accident occurring in the first place, by comprehensively assessing the risk posed by the business using traditional Forensic Engineering Techniques, and offering businesses solutions to mitigate these risks. This reduces exposure for Insurers, by decreasing the likelihood of losses through injury or liability claims. Our surveys can also help to ensure compliance with legislation; which – if an incident does occur – is the best line of defence.
We visit client sites, to survey the risks posed by the business premises and activities, issuing a report, inclusive of recommendations. At Business Minded, we specialise in the specific area of Liability risks – so we look for possible risks to employees (including contractors), customers, visitors arising from your business activities and/or premises. Our main Business Clients include (but are not limited to):
- food, hospitality and tourism sectors,
- retail (from small shops to large shopping centres),
- childcare providers,
- beauty and fitness industry,
- entertainment and the arts.
What to expect when Business Minded is coming to your business
While every business is different and each poses different risks, there is a system to our work which is applicable to all instructions. Generally, we will:
- Assess the premises and activities possible risks, looking for issues that could be a potential danger, making sure your company’s health and safety systems are appropriate
- Take photographs and sketches
- Prepare the our Neutral Forensic Engineering report, which can be used for many purposes, including:
- advising Insurers or Brokers or other Insurance Intermediaries of any risks involved in insuring the business and the steps recommended to mitigate these risks,
- investigating the circumstances of a minor incident which we wish to avoid recurring as a more significant accident
- investigating an accident likely to become a claim, to unbiasedly consider where liability may lie and the validity of any resulting claims.
Who would need such a service?
Our main clients are Businesses, looking to understand and minimise the risks they present. Businesses usually seek our services for two main, interlinked, services – accident prevention and insurance premium reduction. By identifying the risks the business poses, we can work towards minimising it, thereby reducing the likelihood of liability claims. We cannot remove all risk, but we can help to remove many, and can make sure your systems are appropriate to help.
Our Risk Surveys assess compliance with relevant legislation as well as identifying physical hazards, or unsafe business procedures, and provide risk management/minimisation advice to help businesses control or remove these risks. Where you do have a claims or accident history, we can help you understand it, and prevent the same thing happening going forward.
Risk Surveyors are traditionally hired by Insurance Companies to assess the risk involved in various premises. Underwriters view businesses who review and mitigate risk favourably, and this can be seen in an underwriters willingness to accept, or appetite to insure those businesses. Insurers will quickly identify those companies with good health and safety measures in place. Insurers recognise that this culture tends to flow into the claims experience, or number of claims that the business has. In that, a company that isn’t proactive in health and safety will tend to have a lot more claims than a company who are on top of it. Insurers will form a view on this – it is a big part of how Insurance Underwriters assess a business.
There is no foolproof way of avoiding all potential claims, unfortunately. Its all about presenting your risk in the best possible fashion – that is where we are here to help. The more information you can provide to the insurance market with regard to your business activities, and in particular with regard to your risk mitigation and cognisance of health and safety considerations, the better placed you will be to retain more favourable terms of insurance. Premiums and cover are claims and health and safety driven. Don’t give them a reason to refuse your business!
What we are looking for
In general, there are a number of claim types which occur more frequently, depending on the specific business activities. This is part of the concept behind Business Minded. We have seen time and time again that there is low hanging fruit in terms of risk mitigation that all businesses should ensure they are doing – Are the cleaning systems robust? Are the floors slippery? Do the doors close too quickly/heavily? Are rest, working hours and holiday provisions sufficient? Have staff received appropriate training and safety instruction? Does the premises comply with the relevant Building Regulations? Are remote-working staff adequality provided for? There are also risks which are sector (or business) -specific. For instance, most business premises should be surveyed for potential slips, trips and falls, but not all businesses will pose the risks associated with driving for work. Our Surveys take account of the specifics of your business activities as well as considering the more general risks posed by most businesses.
The most common types of liability claim for which this Neutral Forensic Engineer is instructed are:
- Employers Liability – this can be anything from musculoskeletal strain, lifting, stress, occupational asthma, limb entrapment, slips, trips and falls, and many other injuries. Employers have a duty of care towards the health, safety and welfare of all employees (not only direct employees, but anyone on the wage-roll including contractors, and not only those in the usual place of work, but also those working from home), and where this duty has not been met, and an injury occurs, the employer will likely be found liable. It is the duty of the Neutral Forensic Engineer, therefore, to investigate whether employees have been provided with safe and healthy working conditions and environments, as provided for by the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005, the Factories Act 1955, The Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 (to name but a few!). It is important to note that this includes employees not working on the employers premises (home workers are of particular concern for this Forensic Engineer at the time of writing this article).
- Public Liability – similar range of injuries as with Employers Liability, but for members of the public. The duty here is towards any visitors, users, guests and even trespassers.
We include compliance with Government guidance and industry standards for Covid-19 spread minimisation, as standard as part of our Risk Surveys. Even though Covid-19 is at the foremost of people’s minds, we must be careful to not create new risks – for example the risk of entanglement of gloves in machinery, or of slippery floors from sanitisers. Your workplace had risks before Covid.-19 Those risks are still there…. don’t leave yourself open to claims.