By Marcus Leach

Over zealous interpretations of health and safety rules for the voluntary sector and small businesses are tackled in a new guide published by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) today (Thursday).

The guide gives simple, practical advice to businesses and the voluntary sector to help them assess risk without burdening themselves with excessive concerns. It also offers tips on getting a competitive insurance quote and building evidence of risk management that can be used in defence of a claim.

The five straightforward principles of the guide are:

1. Get evidence of senior management commitment on health and safety issues
2. Designate a competent person to be responsible for health and safety or seek an external specialist
3. Adopt a structured approach to planning, monitoring and reviewing health and safety
4. Complete a suitable and sufficient risk assessment
5. Encourage employees to be supportive of health and safety practices.

“Organisations want to focus on what they do best and insurance is designed to help them not block them, despite what some of the myths would have us believe. The five key principles outlined in the guide provide small businesses and the voluntary sector with much needed clarity on health and safety issues,” Nick Starling, Director of General Insurance at the ABI said.

Grant Shapps MP, Minister of State for Housing and Local Government, supported the guide.

"Health and safety needs to be proportionate to risk. All too often tick-box bureaucracy and the fear of falling foul of the rules, gets in the way of common sense, tying up firms in unnecessary red tape and preventing voluntary groups from holding local community events," he said.

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