Managing risk, growing your business
If you run your business from an office, there are a number of risks you'll need to manage in order to make sure your insurance is valid, your property protected and your staff safe. These include making sure the building is secure, that equipment is installed and used correctly and that you have safety measures in place.
1. Be alarmed, or be exposed
Ensure that your office is equipped with fire alarms and extinguishers, and that you display the evacuation procedure for your staff to see. And make sure you check them regularly, not just to make sure they function, but to make sure your staff know what to do in the event of a fire.
2. Prevention is better than claim
Extremes of weather always result in a large number of claims and as well as being inconvenient, incidents such as burst water pipes can be costly to your business. You may need to close the office and send staff home if you have no heat, office equipment could be damaged by flooding and then there's the disruption of having floors cleaned or replaced through damage. You can help prevent such occurrences by doing regular maintenance, such as clearing drains and putting insulation around pipes.
3. People not just property
As a business owner, you have a responsibility to your staff and anyone who visits your premises, to ensure that they are safe and not exposed to unnecessary risks. This includes making sure all carpets and flooring are fitted securely and that any repairs needed are carried out swiftly. You should also make sure you have a well stocked first aid kit and that all accidents are recorded in an accident book.
4. Uninvited visitors
You may be surprised to know that in a survey of small businesses, one in five respondents* said they had arrived at work to discover that a window or exit has been unlocked or the alarm is not set. So it's vital that you follow a strict security procedure for locking up your office each night. All windows should be lockable and you should ensure expensive items which are left in the building, such as laptops, are secured and stored out of site. It's also advisable to install an alarm system.
Make sure your reception staff are made aware of any visitors expected each day, to minimise the risk of unauthorised visitors gaining access to your office. Always ask for ID from any external contractors carrying out maintenance works too.
5. Legal obligations
As well as having a responsibility to your staff and insurance provider, there are legal obligations you have to fulfil as an employer. These include:
- Carrying out a fire risk assessment and making sure that all fire extinguishers work and fire exits are signposted and kept clear at all times.
- Complying with the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974
- Ensuring the way you do business, employ people and that access to your building complies with the Disability Discrimination Act 1995
- Ensuring that you have adequate liability insurance, under the Employers Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969.
The right protection for your business
Understanding risk is the only way you can protect your business - and the people you employ – effectively. Making sure you're adequately protected is the next step. At Hiscox, we offer flexible policies you can individually tailor to protect your office and business needs.
More information about Hiscox Business Insurance >
*Statistic from a YouGov Plc survey commissioned by Hiscox. Total sample size was 979 SMEs and fieldwork was undertaken between 15 - 17 July 2009. The survey was carried out online.