Monday, 5 March 2018

Duty of Care 2

A few days ago I posted on the duty of care.  I invited comments but obviously, while there was interest in the post no-one thought to give me their views!  No matter, I thought I’d share mine again!

There is a general rule under Tort law which give any of us in business a duty to care for others.  This means if anyone visits our premises, whether it is a contractor, a customer, a visitor, or anyone else for that matter, we have a duty to make sure they don’t come to harm.  If they have an accident they could claim against us.

There is also a substantial amount of legislation which is specific on the duty of care, for example, the Health & Safety at Work Act, the Regulatory Reform (Fire safety) regulations to name a couple. 

So how do you protect yourself?

If you operate a business whether or not it has a fixed premise, you have the responsibility under law to make sure no-one comes to harm.  This doesn’t mean that those who use your premises don’t also have responsibilities and if they act in a way that causes themselves or others harm then the responsibility may not be yours.

Some areas where I know that often people don’t always appreciate that they have such responsibilities are in the private rented sector, both permanent and holiday letting.  Did you inherit a house and don’t want to live in it so you decided to rent it out?  Yes, you are in business and the duty of care DOES apply !

Difficult area… I’m not a lawyer but there are certain steps you should take to protect yourself.  Some of this is laid down in legislation but here are a few points to remember:

  • Make sure you have public liability insurance
  • Carry out risk assessments, for health and safety and fire
  • Carry out an access review, you don’t want people falling down steps
  • Make sure the products you supply are safe, get a PAT test done, is the furniture you supply fire retardant,
  • Where you are legally obliged, for example you rent a house with gas central heating, get it checked annually
  • Fit carbon monoxide monitors and smoke detectors where people are living in your house
  • Check the electric system every 5 years.

Above all, remember that even if the duty of care is not specifically designated you may still be liable!

This guide is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice which may be relied on in any situation.

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