According to the Association of British Insurers, the number of bodily injury claims received by insurers increased by 72% from 2002 to 2010. The figure continues to increase, with gyms and football pitches increasingly the focus of claims.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) continues to prosecute leisure operators for breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and associated regulations, with fines and costs totalling tens of thousands of pounds already handed out to operators of swimming pools, climbing walls and other leisure facilities in the first six months of 2015.
Counting the cost of personal injury claims & HSE prosecutions
Defending a claim can have serious consequences. Not only financial - fines, compensation payments, court costs and legal fees can run up to tens of thousands of pounds.
But there are also the hidden costs too; the amount of time, resources and energy needed to defend a claim. Increased insurance premiums. The damage to reputation and associated loss of business. The drop in morale, staff retention, and - not to mention - significant personal stress.
Prevention is better than cure...
No leisure operator ever wants customers to go away unhappy - much less physically injured or mentally scarred. As a responsible manager, you’re no doubt fully aware of your legal obligations and are doing everything required to keep everyone using your facility safe. (If you'd like a reminder - take a look at our free checklist here).
The truth is, the best way to reduce the risk of injuries and claims is by having robust safety and risk management scheme in place. That means ensuring checks, inspections, training and risk assessments are carried out and reviewed on a regular, systematic basis by trained, competent staff.
Defend, defend, defend...
What if you have all of that in place but a claim still lands on your desk? Accidents do happen, and we all know that the prevailing "have-a-go" compensation culture means you could end up facing a claim through no real fault of your own. How do you protect your business from fines, compensation payments and reputational damage?
By keeping accurate records.
If a claim is made against your business, you’ll need to provide evidence (whether to your insurance company, the police or HSE) which proves you have been doing everything necessary under your duty of care. If you can't provide hard evidence that proves beyond any reasonable doubt that all your inspections, repairs, training and observations have been carried out, it's your word against theirs.
Incomplete or missing records could be putting your entire organisation at risk. So ask yourself this - if you were investigated, would your paperwork hold up? Could you prove exactly what equipment has been inspected, when? Could you prove that your staff are adequately qualified, competent and up-to-the-job? That your facilities are checked and maintained on a regular basis, and that you have adequate safety procedures in place?
Go through the list of answers you provided in the checklist and ask yourself - could I prove it?