The question is often asked by leaseholders: why do we need a Health & Safety risk assessment every year?
The answer is that we as managing agents have a duty under the Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999 to undertake these risk assessments. The courts and the Health and Safety Executive have held that communal areas of blocks and estates are places of work and therefore are included in the health and safety regulations. So, if any of these areas are visited by a resident, contractor, employee or a visitor, we must undertake a Risk Assessment. If we do not manage these areas properly, then risks could result in injuries and/or fatalities, leading to legal action, compensation and potentially, imprisonment.
As a minimum, the Health & Safety Executive require both policies and procedures to be put in place that fully meet the legal requirements set out under the Act. These include:
A written Health & Safety Policy
Assessments of the risk to employees, contractors, residents and any other people who could be affected – andthe significant findings recorded in writing
Arrangements for the effective planning, organisation, control, monitoring and review of the preventative and protective measures that come from risk assessment
Access to competent Health and Safety advice
Providing information about the risk and how they are controlled
Instruction and training in how to deal with the risks
Ensuring there is adequate and appropriate management in place
Consulting with employees, contractors, residents and other people who could be affected about the risks and current preventative and protective measures.
The overriding duty to comply with these regulations falls upon the landlord or person responsible for managing the building. Not wanting to pay for such a risk assessment within the service charge budget is not a viable reason not to undertake such work and it should be remembered that, if you are a Director of your estate or block, you too could be liable as well as your Managing Agent.
If you want to read the Act, see more here