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“Anyone who believes that they have common sense has simply forgotten who taught them what they know.” – Alan Quilley, President of Safety Results Limited. In Australian business, Work Health and Safety (WH&S) is too often the “elephant in the room”; most businesses know of it, and most know why it exists, but frequently WH&S is put to the bottom of the “to-do list”, meaning it doesn’t get the time or attention required to effectively provide a safe workplace for employees.
There are number of reasons why this occurs, but the most common barrier is the perceived cost. Just the mention of WH&S can lead business owners/managers to jump to the conclusion that this means purchasing the latest safety gadget, or providing expensive Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to each staff member. Then of course there is the “cost” of staff time involved in the WH&S process, from organising committees, hosting meetings, performing risk assessments or completing incident reports.
While these costs are very real and unavoidable at times, they are only a small part of the effective WH&S measures that a business can implement to build a safe work culture. Unfortunately, like the captain of the famous Titanic, EJ Smith, businesses often take the “It will never happen to me” approach to injuries and WH&S. WorkCover threats of enforcement notices and/or fines are easily dismissed given the rare frequency that these audits occur. This is despite the fines for serious offences being as high as $3,000,000 for the corporation, and $600,000 and/or 5 years imprisonment for the “Officer” responsible for the safety breach (Officer being a broad term to describe people who can make significant decisions within the organisation, usually the director of a company).
Businesses also need to consider the direct impact that a workplace injury can have on a business to understand the importance of taking WH&S seriously. Does your business consider that poor WH&S measures can:
- Put your hardworking PEOPLE at risk of serious, potentially permanent or fatal injury?
- Disrupt your PROCESSES by having to move/train/recruit staff to cover that injured person?
- Result in loss of confidence and relationships with valuable CUSTOMERS?
- Result in FINANCAL losses through lost time injuries and Workers Compensation premiums?
The opening quote by Alan Quilley refers to common sense being taught and remembered, and this is certainly the case with WH&S. Re-iteration of the importance of WH&S through training, regular discussion and consultation with staff and action taken by management helps builds a safe working culture. Ideally, your frontline staff are constantly keeping an eye out for hazards, and effectively protecting themselves and other staff by notifying the appropriate person with the power to eliminate, minimize or advertise the hazard.
With extensive experience working in the Workers Compensation industry, our GSA team consistently spread the message that injury prevention strategies are superior to injury management. GSA works with our Insurers and Third Party Providers to access a range of WH&S services that assist our clients meet their legislative, cultural and financial requirements to provide a safe workplace. GSA can also assist by negotiating with your Insurer to fund some of these initiatives.
Our Workers Compensation team is happy to take any queries about WH&S and/or Workers Compensation services available. Contact details below.
Many companies and property owners have difficulties understanding their exposure arising from environmental contamination. This article is intended to provide a brief overview of the exposures and the insurance protection that is available.
First some examples of a possible environmental claim scenarios:
- A storage tank for a backup generator leaks and fuel oil contaminates a drainage ditch, an owner’s property and an adjacent site
- Your site is found to be contaminated before or after purchase
- A manufacturing company is sued by neighbours who allege sickness from fumes
- A Hazmat team is dispatched to an elementary school due to a small mercury spill
- An industrial processing facility is sued by an environmental group claiming an illegal discharge into streams
The assumption is made too many times that a standard public liability policy would provide coverage in the event of an environmental loss. A standard liability policy provides very restrictive protection against sudden and accidental/ unforseen coverage and does not protect the insured against any clean-up costs on their property and in some cases not even clean-up costs on a third party’s property. The definition of pollution is also often restrictive and does not always provide cover for every environmental incident.
One of the many misconceptions of this specific cover is that companies assume that if they are not dealing with hazardous materials then there is no exposure. One of the common claim scenarios the industry is experiencing are property owners and/or companies finding their existing sites are already contaminated in some way by previous occupiers. This is normally discovered when redeveloping or selling the property or sometimes fortunately when purchasing the property.
The legislation now states that if you own the property, you are responsible for the any pollution or contamination issues on the site unless you are able to determine and prove that the previous property owner or occupier contaminated the site, if they are still around.
Proving that the previous property owner was at fault and convincing them to pay could possibly take months if not years and also place a significant financial strain on the property owner and/ or company. Enter Environmental Impairment Liability cover.
There are a number of Insurers now providing a variety of important protections for clients. Please see some examples of the types of covers that can be arranged:
- Coverage for “Gradual” pollution. (A standard liability policy will only provide coverage for sudden and accidental/ unforseen pollution liability to third parties).
- Coverage for Environmental Fines and Penalties.
- Coverage for Emergency Response.
- Statutory Emergency Cost and Preventative Measures. Statutory clean-up of 1st party property.
- Statutory clean-up of 3rd party property.
- Natural Resource Damage and associated Remediation.
- Transactional Insurance - the policy can be used as a tool to assist with the sale or purchase of land or a company (shares or assets).
For more information on this emerging trend within the Australian insurance industry, please feel free to contact GSA.
The introduction of the Personal Property Securities Act (PPSA) in January 2012 combined over 70 forms of existing security registers into the one single register, commonly referred to as the PPSA. If Companies want to maintain their security interest over goods that have been supplied, having retention of title clause in your terms and conditions will no longer suffice; registration is now the only way to secure your interest.
The end of the two year transitional period is now fast approaching and we ask that you consider if you have taken all possible steps to ensure that your business is protected? Unfortunately, many companies are finding out the hard way that not registering their security interest or, registering incorrectly can have serious consequences in the event that their customer goes into administration. Simply put, an incorrect registration can result in total loss of the goods supplied.
The first important step for any company to become compliant is to seek legal advice to ensure that your terms and conditions of trade incorporate the correct clauses to allow you to register your security interest over your customers. It is then imperative to communicate your intention to register to your customers, allow them a period of time in which they may oppose or object. The next step is to commence with the formal registrations. Many companies that have embarked on this registration process without the assistance of a specialist consultant and legal advice have found themselves unable to enforce their security interest.
Common errors within registrations:
1. Registration against an incorrect, invalid or obsolete entity
2. Incorrect selection of collateral class, type and description of security interest
3. Not “perfecting” the registration with a PMSI (Purchased Money Security Interest)
Incorrect registration will leave you unable to recover any goods in the possession of the Administrator and will also result in an “unsecured” creditor position.
There are many more unfortunate stories related to companies making simple mistakes when it comes to protecting their security interests under the Personal Properties Securities Register. However, all is not lost and there are some effective precautions and steps your business can take to avoid un-necessary loss. Proactive preparation and due diligence is the key to ensuring that your business continues to secure the same rights that you previously held.
Written by Gemma Scott
GSA have partnered with companies and legal firms that specialise in PPSA consultancy. If you would like to know more about how to maximise protection for your business, please contact the GSA Trade Credit Division.
“Simon* has made wonderful progress from going to KidsXpress. [He is now] brave enough to speak up for himself and voice his wants and needs … The difference is just so incredible. It is like 2 different children. Simon is no longer suicidal. He finds joy in the world and is lighter in going about his life.”
When I saw this quote from a parent in that moment I truly felt like my job was done! If we can prevent one child from taking their life, then is there a greater task to complete in life? Well sadly yes, because as I turn the page there lays a referral for a 9 year old girl - her reasons for referral; abuse, neglect, severe physical & sexual assault, mental health issues, domestic violence, drug & alcohol, homelessness. This child has just been placed in her 55th foster placement and to date has attended 13 schools. No surprises that this child has resorted to self-harm, suffers from severe anxiety, diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and experiences significant difficulties in initiating and maintaining relationships. So no, my job has just begun … and our vision to transform the life of every child impacted by trauma through our leading expressive therapy has never been more important!
As the country has been caught up in the flurry (or fury) of the election I looked to our kids to see evidence of any impact on them. To most not a lot, the hype tends to wash over them … but to some there is a tinge of disappointment. Not because of who or which party wins in the end but because our kids are desperately seeking someone to follow, a role model, a leader. In a session with some 10-12 year olds one child was challenged by the other kids about his bullying behavior. His response “Why should I stop (bullying) isn’t that what leaders of the country do?” In many kids lives they are searching for a person of integrity to follow. If their families have not provided that then they look to local leaders, if they are lacking then they will just keep going up the tree until they find someone. Many will continue the search all their lives, through childhood and into their careers. Yes, it is fair to say they will find some along the way and I whole-heartedly believe it is when they meet (and perhaps employed) by companies like those within the insurance industry that their search will be over. Within the realms of "strength when you need it" I believe our future generations will find the leadership, progressive thought, compassionate understanding and generous spirit - evident at the Steadfast Conference this year when the insurance industry came together and raised over $160,000 for KidsXpress.
As KidsXpress takes its leadership role to the next level within our sector, we are conscious of the role model we were founded on through GSA and the high standards they have set. Partnering with like-minded organizations such as Mission Australia and Domestic Violence NSW is evidence KidsXpress is challenging the status quo. We will make a stand and take action to insure a better life for our kids and society’s future.
Written by Margo Ward the visionary and founder of KidsXpress