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I fear that I may be opening a can of worms here, and putting myself up for some abuse;- but I'm stuck anyway so here goes!

 

So I've recently found myself in a sticky situation. I called up my Insurance Brokers, (one of the big, well known Arb insurance specialists), to renew my Public Liability policy. As I've done annually for the last 8 years I think, with no problem. This time they questioned the fact that I don't also have Employers Liability and then proceeded to give me a very hard sell, and I would say actually tried to bully me into taking it. I firmly refused as it's not worth it for me so they eventually said that they could not even give me the original Public Liability insurance. Their argument is that according to the HSE it is against the law to climb without a second climber on site, so the Public Liability would be invalid anyway if I was working alone. And if I am doing it "properly" and using a sub-contractor then I need the Employers Insurance to cover them.

 

Some background. I'm a Sole Trader, doing a mix of tree surgery, general gardening and landscaping work. I occasionally have other people to help me out on bigger jobs but it's only a few times a year and always either my brother doing it for the crack or a mate for some beer money, so all very casual. Also, I only do this over the summer as I have a completely different job during the winter. I was paying about £350 for the P.L., if I was to have the E.L. as well it would be double that per year. It really wouldn't be worth it financially given my circumstances, the amount I earn from the tree surgery work.

 

There's a few issues here, one obviously is the whole lone working thing. I didn't really want to get into a debate on the rights and wrongs of this here, it's been covered quite a lot already on Arbtalk. I recognise that it is a risk of course, but it's one that I am willing to take for now given the relatively small amount of climbing work that I do. As long as I am not endangering others then I believe that it's my risk to take. If I am using anyone else to help me then it can be their choice, I will be open about the fact that I have no E.L. insurance.

 

The other issue is that of being correctly insured for all work that I do. Working without Public Liability is very much NOT what I want to do. I have always tried to "do things properly", in as much as being fully insured and having all my kit up-to-scratch w.r.t. Loler regs.

 

I'd been with that insurance company for a number of years, they'd never asked too many questions and never pushed the E.L. on me. I don't know why they are suddenly insisting, I asked if the law had changed or something but they said no.

 

I've not yet tried any of the other companies around but I'm concerned that they are going to take the same approach and say both policies or nothing at all. If that happens then I'll have a few options, none of them at all attractive.

a) Lower myself to the ranks of the cowboys and work with no insurance

b) Give up the climbing work altogether, (I could get P.L. but it would be limited to 5mtrs effectively meaning no climbing)

c) Bite the bullet and take out the annual E.L. as well but that would mean very little profit from my tree work

 

I'm now in a right quandary about what to do. Has anyone else been faced with a similar situation? Are there any companies that anyone knows of that will provide P.L. without E.L.? Or, if I could get the E.L. on an ad hoc basis that would be ideal. It makes no sense to pay for a whole year of cover if I'm only going to need it for a few occasions. If I could get the cover as needed on a daily basis I could be all "above board" with a clear conscience, without wasting lots of money. I'm sure this is an impossible dream unfortunately. Is it indeed strictly the case that it is against the law to climb without a second climber on site? I get the impression that it's a bit of a grey area.

 

Cheers guys and gals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bit stuck realy -aren't you ! Definately looks like it's 'go proper arb' or give that side up. Or sub the Arb stuff out. Nothing seems to be cheap or easy now. K

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1 hour ago, sime42 said:

As long as I am not endangering others then I believe that it's my risk to take. If I am using anyone else to help me then it can be their choice, I will be open about the fact that I have no E.L. insurance.

No it isn't EL is a legal requirement in that circumstance

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Try Adrian Flux, not specialists to tree work but they seem to be able to help a mate of mine. He's in a similar situation to you where he very rarely uses any hired in help, but I Think he gets cover as and when needed. I'm insured with them but haven't had a claim so I don't know what they would be like then.

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If you can't afford an extra £350/year to pay for EL because the amount of tree work you do doesn't justify it I would think you have answered your own question.

 

You're better off palling up with a local tree surgeon and punting the work his way, possibly helping out on the job etc. in exchange for a decent cut.

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No it isn't EL is a legal requirement in that circumstance
Ok thanks for that. So if I am breaking the law by not having a second climber present, under what circumstances could or would I be prosecuted? For instance if I did have an accident leading to injury or worse and the HSE found out, would they still come after me even if no-one else was involved?

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Try Adrian Flux, not specialists to tree work but they seem to be able to help a mate of mine. He's in a similar situation to you where he very rarely uses any hired in help, but I Think he gets cover as and when needed. I'm insured with them but haven't had a claim so I don't know what they would be like then.
Thanks, I'll give them a try.

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If you can't afford an extra £350/year to pay for EL because the amount of tree work you do doesn't justify it I would think you have answered your own question.
 
You're better off palling up with a local tree surgeon and punting the work his way, possibly helping out on the job etc. in exchange for a decent cut.
Yeah good point. I do this to an extent already;- I give customers the name of a local guy that I've subbed for in this past, if I don't fancy a particular tree job or haven't time or resource. Not sure that I would be able to persuade him to give me a cut of the profit though! I could start doing more subbing work for him on a more frequent basis probably.
It's one idea that's crossed my mind, stopping the tree work for myself but instead doing it for others as a subby. Not ideal in terms of freedom to schedule my own jobs but could be the best comprise solution.
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The moment you have anyone working for you directly, subcontract or just simply a customer doing a menial task then you have a liability and a duty of care.. As soon as anything goes wrong it all gets very stressful as you are a professional and should have acted accordingly. This also applies to two sole traders working together on a job with each having their own insurance.. One party has to become the main contractor and at that point he has to have EL to cover the other contractor.

 

By not having EL you are setting yourself up for a fall if you have anyone helping you.

I did a Business Wales introduction to employing staff day to assist companies to develop and grow their businesses. There were approximately 10 small sole trader businesses looking to take on their first member of staff.. We all started the day hopeful that we would go away in the knowledge that we would soon be expanding the business.. It was quite frightening prospect listening to everything that was said and by mid afternoon everyone was rethinking their future prospects and saying that they were now not going to take anyone on... Glad I did the day as it was very informative and no I didn't take anyone on.

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42 minutes ago, sime42 said:
2 hours ago, openspaceman said:
No it isn't EL is a legal requirement in that circumstance

Ok thanks for that. So if I am breaking the law by not having a second climber present, under what circumstances could or would I be prosecuted? For instance if I did have an accident leading to injury or worse and the HSE found out, would they still come after me even if no-one else was involved?

As Jamie Jones says it's not climbing by yourself I was taking issue with but rather that as soon as anyone is helping you you take responsibility for them, so EL is a legal requirement.

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