How regular slip testing will help you to successfully defend more insurance claims in your leisure club

It pains me, but I am regularly told words to the effect of:

“We don’t want to slip test because it will be harmful if we ever get a claim”

“We don’t want to slip test because it will prove we have a problem and then we’ll have to do something about it”

“We don’t need a slip test because we’ve not had any accidents”

All of the above are totally incorrect ways of thinking for various reasons:

Slip testing results will only be harmful if:

  1. They are poor and
  2. You don’t act to do anything to improve the situation

Putting your head in the sand is no excuse for your staff and clients to get hurt and it’s certainly no excuse in the event of a prosecution because a reasonable person would have proceeded with the testing – remember, the test is have you acted with “reasonable practicality”

The fact you’ve had very few or no accidents may be because you have great floors and maintain them well… or it might just be pure luck. Until you have a test, it’s impossible to say

Regular slip testing, provided it is coupled with actions to ensure that floors are in a safe condition, will be very powerful when it comes to defending any claims that ever arise.

Let’s imagine three scenarios…

1) Far too many companies have never even had a slip test, in spite of near misses or accidents, because they feel things such as:

  • “Floors are bound to be slippery when wet”
  • “It’s just one or two accidents, we don’t have a problem”
  • “I put my yellow sign out, what more could I have done?”

2) I’ve seen a lot of shopping centres, for example, commission annual slip testing but the results show the same thing year, after year:

  • Testing is done showing a high slip potential when wet
  • Testing is done showing a high slip potential when wet
  • Testing is done showing a high slip potential when wet

Now this is damaging in the event of any claims: you have had the testing done, you have been shown you have a problem, yet you’ve done nothing to rectify it.

3) Someone takes a more proactive approach:

  • Testing is done showing a high slip potential when wet
  • Remedial action is taken and a further test is documented to prove this was done and that a low slip potential was achieved
  • After 6 months, a further test was done which showed a low slip potential when wet
  • After 6 months, a further test was done which showed a low slip potential when wet
  • After 6 months, a further test was done which showed a low slip potential when wet

So firstly, let’s think about this logically:

  1. In which scenario do you think you are likely to have fewer accidents, see less harm to your staff and clients, and receive fewer insurance claims to begin with?
  2. In which scenario do you expect to see the lowest insurance premium?
  3. In which scenario would you feel most comfortable standing up in court to defend your actions as a company director or person responsible for health & safety?

Secondly, let’s take a legal expert’s opinion on the matter:

David Scott, who heads up the leisure and hospitality team at Keoghs, a renowned law firm specialising in defending insurance claims, says:

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“If a client can prove that they are taking proactive steps using expert advice on a regular basis – for example a 6-12 monthly deep clean to make their floors compliant evidenced with a pendulum test – I am going to be on a much, much stronger footing to defend any claims that do arise”

If a lawyer thinks it is preferable to do slip testing and proactive slip safety risk management, don’t you think you should seriously consider it?

Thirdly, what about an insurer’s viewpoint:

Chris Gill, Head of Risk Solutions from international insurer QBE, says:

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“Ignorance of not knowing is not a suitable defence. With slips, trips and falls consistently sitting in the top 3 loss trends for UK casualty policies, businesses can certainly do better to mitigate their risks by understanding that the health, safety and overall experience for your employees and customers is fundamental to protecting your productivity, brand and reputation. Underpinning this are tangible benefits for reducing lost working time, preventing accidents, reducing claims cost through faster decisions and defensibility. In the long-term you should see reducing premiums through fewer claims and liabilities. From an insurer’s perspective there therefore may well be an investable benefit to assist with the expense of slip testing.”

So insurers, too, would prefer clients to do regular slip testing as this is evidence of proactive risk management.

In summary, it’s clear that leisure centres should be doing slip testing regularly, provided they are also undertaking action to ensure their floors are safe. Do these two things and – in my experience – you can see:

50% + reductions in accidents, even on constantly wet floor surfaces such as in a bath tub:

 

50% + reduction in claims volumes – here’s an example from the leisure sector:

 

And as David Scott says, a much, much better chance of being able to defend claims quickly and at as low a cost as possible.

This will help you to:

  • Have more certainty about your cost of risk
  • Reduce that overall cost
  • Save time, effort and all sorts of other hidden costs
  • Protect your company’s reputation
  • Keep yourself out of bother on a personal level
  • As a bonus, improve your brand standards, customer experience and therefore drive membership sales and retention too

If you’d like some help with understanding what you could and should be doing in terms of slip safety, you can set up an exploratory talk with me here: www.slipsafety.co.uk/call/

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