A stitch in time can save nine – regular maintenance checks a must

screw looseI am over for much of this week in New Zealand delivering a round of master classes on property insurance. Yesterday, I was in Wellington staying at one of my favourite hotels, but as I was delivering the lecture, I kept being distracted by a partition wall out on the balcony which was moving far more than it ought in the famous Wellington wind.

At the end of the day, when the group had left the conference room, I went out on to the balcony to find that my concern was justified. The fixings were clearly undersized for the job, many screws were missing and others had worked loose to the point that only a couple were still holding the wall.

I was concerned that the wall could break loose during a storm causing more damage to the building and to passers-by, guests of the hotel or to other property.

While I appreciate that New Zealand has a no fault compensation scheme, this is cold comfort to an injured party. In other jurisdictions, anyone operating a place of business owes a duty of care to their guests, staff and the public in general and this extends to regular maintenance.

What I witnessed had not just occurred that day and must, or perhaps I should have said been seen, by cleaning /housekeeping staff and picked up by a regular maintenance check.

If your business, or your clients do not think risk management is important, safety incidents (not accidents, as these are preventable) will and do occur.

I am pleased that I discovered this hazard while it was still standing and not after a storm.

I have shared my concerns with the front of house staff who took the report seriously and will (I hope) have the necessary repairs completed. At their request I emailed them four photographs of the problem. I also know the insurance broker involved, so I copied him in on the email.

On a different topic, my time in Wellington was well used with a breakfast meeting to finalise the topic I will be speaking on at this year’s Insurance Council of New Zealand conference, to be held on 11th November in Auckland and, at the end of the day, I partook in an extended interview with journalist, Mr Rob Stork, of New Zealand’s Sunday Star Times on the inappropriateness of having Fire Service Levies on insurance. I understand the article will appear in this Sunday’s paper for those readers living in beautiful New Zealand.

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