How Nanotechnology Could Expose Your Business

Nanotechnology may well be the future of manufacturing but manipulating materials at a nanoscale could result in issues further down the line, in terms of employee health and safety. Meanwhile, producing products with a technology still in its infancy could create other problems, including product recalls and lawsuits brought by those on the wrong end of product failure and inaccurate professional advice.

In 2019, we saw welding fume classed as a carcinogen and new HSE safety policies governing how welding should be controlled. With nanotechnology, inhalation of airborne nano particles is already thought to cause health issues including lung inflammation and heart problems. Whilst this is a relatively new risk, it is important for manufacturers to do all they can to control it and respond to their legal responsibilities under COSHH regulations.

The HSE’s website says: “Given the current limited availability of hazard data for most nanomaterials it will be challenging to establish the toxicological behaviour of specific nanomaterials with any degree of certainty’. The HSE does, however, offer guidance on how to control the risks in a downloadable booklet at

Having employer and public liability insurance is key for those using nanotechnology but other insurance covers may also be required, such as environmental liability insurance. For instance, silver nanoparticles have been used as an odour repressant in socks, but the nanoparticles can enter the waste-water system when washed, potentially having negative impacts on ecosystems by destroying beneficial bacteria. Full traceability of products using nano technology will be required and anyone producing products using nano technology could be well advised to reflect on the need for product recall insurance.

With the use of nano technology in fields such as car engines and aerospace, product failure could possibly lead to of deaths or catastrophic events that inevitably result in legal proceedings, not just for a business but also, possibly, the directors or managers within it. 

Legal actions could impact on directors’ or managers’ personal assets, resulting in fines and also imprisonment, making management liability cover another huge consideration. Professional indemnity insurance will also most likely be required, protecting you should you have recommended or produced nano-technology-based solutions or products that then have design or production faults.

For assistance with your own specific insurance requirements, please get in touch on 0113 244 8686, so that we can talk to you about the different options.