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insurance and the pick-a-part site

Pick-a-Parts entrance
Erith based, Pick-A-Part carefully control who gets in and out of their yard.
If you operate a pick-a-part (self service) site then you may have come across the same insurance problems as Simon Charlton of Erith based Pick-a-Part. His insurers gave him two weeks notice but according to Anita Jones of Bollington, there shouldn’t be a problem getting cover but you do have to tick the right boxes - read on!


Last month we looked at a full service site and if you haven’t read that article (Click here) then it’s worth reading it in conjunction with this one as many of the issues are the same and here we are particularly focussing on those matters that apply to self service sites.

Self service has been a reducing market for our industry for a long time but over more recent years, this area has seen quite a revival. Why? According to Simon it’s all about cost. “If we want to keep prices down, then one key area is labour. If the customer is removing his own parts then we aren’t paying to remove them.”

But, allowing customers into the yard raises issues for insurers and the big concerns revolve around safety. We must all understand that insurance is all about the chance of something going wrong so it isn’t hard to see that if it is perceived that there is a high chance of something happening, then an insurer will either decline to cover or charge you a colossal premium. So, getting sensible insurance cover is all about reducing those risks. Unfortunately as a sector we’re lumped in with other recyclers and waste processors who we believe, because of their claims issues, contribute to the dismantler being penalised for being in the same boat. That aside, we can do a lot to mitigate our risks.

When customers enter your yard they run a risk of being hurt and that’s why you not only must minimise risk but also be able to demonstrate that you have done so. We will work through the issues raised at Simon’s site by Anita and Bollington’s head of Risk Management, Andy Barnes.

Monitor those entering the site and discourage time wasters. Simon solves the time waster issue by charging everyone entering the site £1.00. OK this isn’t a lot of money but you aren’t going to pay up just for a walk around the yard. Controlled entry and exit ensures no-one enters without the permission of the person in the gatehouse.

Anita Jones
Anita Jones has been organising effective cover for businesses in our sector for over 10 years. She understands how we operate and is professionally trained to assess and help you both minimise and manage your risks. By doing so, she can arrange insurance cover that not only reflects your operation but will provide adequate cover when something does go wrong. You can call Anita at Bollington on 07977 432048 or click to email her.
80% of Simon’s business comes from trade customers and therefore mainly repeat business. This means that many are familiar with the rules of the site and are also dressed appropriately. The rules for this site are on a large sign at the entrance but Andy felt they could improve here with perhaps a list of these rules to give to people prior to entering the site. Protective footwear is a requirement for anybody who wishes to enter the site – Pick-a-Part has some suitable footwear available for those who turn up without it.

Once in the yard you have to be aware that vehicle movements, forklifts etc have the potential to hurt customers who are not necessarily focussing on what your staff are doing. Systems must be in place to remove this risk from happening. This could be carrying out movements at times when customers are not on site or only carrying out these operations with an additional member of staff to walk with the vehicle and make sure any customers are aware and not in a position of danger.

Fall from heights is another big hazard. A height means anything above the ground so don’t think this is just about stacked up vehicles. Any vehicle must be stable. Simon, like many others uses old rims welded together as vehicle stands. Andy expressed concern that these are not inspected or tested such as an axle stand is. As it is a common method of standing vehicles, then the welding and signs of any damage should be checked for regularly.

Lifting was another potential area of concern. Many items are heavy and could cause injury. Simon explained for heavy items where lifting assistance was required, the customer would carry out all the preparatory work and then staff would assist in removing and transporting the item.

Staff training must cover all aspects of monitoring and assisting customers as they must be ready to stop potential dangers should they arise. Your staff’s eyes and ears are an essential part of your safety programme. They must also be aware and vigilant to prevent events where fake injuries can be conjured up with the intention of a compensation claim.

As we mentioned in last month’s article, the paper trail is essential. If something does go wrong, you must be able to demonstrate that you took all reasonable steps to prevent it. Insurance brokers in this industry have to do far more than sell you a policy. They have to be risk specialists and assess your site before they can do anything. Only with this information can they arrange cover. If you have any concerns, it’s worth talking to Anita at Bollington on 07977 432048 or click here to email her.

November 2013

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