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Is a perfect storm brewing?

At a glance

  • Health and safety reforms could leave UK businesses facing a long period of adjustment

Three strong health and safety forces could be brewing a perfect storm for business customers: large amounts of legislation; ‘disproportionate’ interpretation of it; and the high costs of regulator intervention.

All of this could mean unnecessary expense for customers unless timely interventions from their risk advisers materialise.

Since October 2012, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has been able to recover administrative costs it incurs from visits to businesses where it finds a ‘material breach’ in health and safety. Based on an hourly rate of £124, none of these costs will be covered by insurance policies.

What are the consequences?

Health and safety risk could increase in businesses all over the country, potentially exacerbating what is already described as a compensation culture

UK businesses should prepare for a long period of adjustment and change, according to a Zurich Corporate Risk Insight publication, with health and safety ‘reforms likely over the next three or four years’, to change a regime that has been found too complicated and bureaucratic by two separate government reports.

The introduction of these charges reinforces the need for companies to ensure that their health and safety policies and procedures can withstand criticism from HSE, but many medium-size businesses do not have the necessary expertise in-house.


Changes to the way the Health and Safety Executive operates means that free advice and support may not be as readily available as it once was. As a direct result, health and safety risks could increase in businesses all over the country, potentially exacerbating what is already described as a compensation culture.

Your Zurich contact can help to provide you with the latest information about health and safety legislation changes and how they can affect your clients, but the main priority for you should be to adequately advise your customers as professional risk advisors. To discover how you can help your customers minimise the chances of an expensive visit from the HSE or advise on best corporate practices, click below to read the full Zurich Corporate Risk Insight.

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