Businesses urged to manage the risks of dogs in the workplace

Val Watson
Authored by Val Watson
Posted Monday, June 17, 2024 - 3:16pm

As ‘Bring Your Dog to Work Day’ approaches on 21 June, South West businesses are being advised to consider the risks associated with dogs in the workplace.

Lynne Fisher, Associate Director of leading animal business insurer Cliverton, has emphasised the importance of balancing the well-documented benefits of having dogs at work – from reduced stress levels and improved productivity – with potential risks.

“While there are no specific laws about bringing dogs to work, employers must remember their duty of care obligations to ensure the safety, health and welfare of all staff,” she said.

“Companies should have a clear policy that offers guidance around introducing dogs safely into the workplace and that outlines employer-employee liabilities.”

Fisher points out that businesses could face costly legal action unless staff sign an indemnification agreement or the company policy stipulates that the owner bears legal and financial responsibility for any injuries or damages incurred.

“Dogs injuring employees or damaging equipment are just some of the risks of introducing dogs to an office environment,” she said. “Even if owners provide written assurance that their dogs are well-trained with a good temperament, there is still the potential for them to behave out-of-character in unfamiliar surroundings.

“Not all dogs will be at ease in an office, even if they are normally very relaxed around other animals or strangers, so limiting the numbers of dogs permitted is good practice.

“Dogs should also be insured, clean, obedient and have had all their vaccinations.”

Fisher also urges businesses to conduct thorough risk assessments of the office space, along with evaluating every dog an employee wishes to bring to work.

“Hiding wires or harmful objects, providing water and rest areas and checking if co-workers have pet allergies or are afraid or uncomfortable around dogs should all form a vital part of the health and safety risk assessment,” she added.

“Furthermore, a pet policy should only be introduced if there is unanimous agreement and support for the scheme. It is advisable to seek written permission from everyone that they are happy to work alongside their colleagues’ dogs.

“Having a pet-friendly workplace can be a very rewarding and positive experience for everyone involved if introduced with sensitivity, thorough health and safety planning and expertadvice, where needed, from an insurance specialist.”


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