FSI Ansvar Health and Safety Webinar - Q&As

Managing health and safety for smaller, lower risk and non-employer organisations - an insurer’s view.

Feedback on questions received:

How does the Health and Safety at Work Act apply to volunteers?

The Health and Safety at Work Act sets out duties for employers and others.  It applies to any organisation that has at least one employee. Organisations who are not employers will also have responsibilities under it where they control non-domestic premises used as a place of work or where they provide plant [e.g. equipment] or substances for use by others there.  As such, if an organisation is an employer it should afford a similar level of protection to that provided for employees to any volunteers they have.  An organisation with no employees, needs to make sure that premises and any equipment/substances provided for the use of volunteers is safe.

Further information is available at: Does health and safety legislation apply to volunteers?

What's the responsibility of the employer if their employee is based at home e.g. if a charity does not own or work from a premises with employees conducting work duties from their home.  Is there still a responsibility to ensure the home is appropriate to work from?

Employers have a duty to protect employees who are homeworkers.  This will need to identified in any risk assessments [if they need to be prepared] along with any precautions to be implemented  and the arrangements for managing any risk set out in the policy for that organisation [where one is needed]. 

Further information is available at: Protect home workers

I work for a small charity who are gifted accommodation by a larger organisation, do we fall under their policies etc. or do we still need to create our own policies etc.?

If you’re an employer, you will need to determine your own arrangements for making sure your employees and others are safe.

What is EL and PL?

EL is Employers’ Liability insurance.  It covers the cost of claims made by employees (including authorised volunteers) as consequence of any injury, disease or death.

PL is Public Liability insurance.  It covers the cost of claims made by members of the public as a consequence of injury, death loss of or damage to property.

Further information is available at: ABI, Liability Insurance

As an employer of less than five, we are in serviced offices. Where do our responsibilities end and the premises owner start?

In relation to the safety of the offices this will depend on the nature of the contract or tenancy agreement. As regards activities under your control inside those offices (e.g. use of display screen equipment by your employees) you will need to comply with any specific requirements.  

Further information is available at: Office health and safety

Do people working as self-employed class as an employee of the company?

For health and safety law purposes, those who are 'self-employed' are those who do not work under a contract of employment and work only for themselves.  They have their own responsibilities under health and safety law.

Further information is available at: Self-employed - do I have duties?

We put on performances in other people’s premises, what is the balance of responsibility of landlords and us towards the audience?

This will depend on the nature of the agreement between you and the landlord.  In some instances, ensuring the safety of the premises may fall to the landlord with those associated with the performance falling to you.  It is a good idea to agree who is responsible for what upfront. 

Is there any COVID-specific risk assessment guidance?

If you are employer who needs to complete a written risk assessment general information is available from the Health and Safety Executive.  

Further information is available at: Risk assessment during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

We're in a serviced office which includes communal areas and grounds shared with other businesses. If something were to happen in the communal area or shared grounds, would that be the responsibility of the landlord?

This will depend on the nature of the agreement between you and the landlord.  In many circumstances like these, responsibility for maintaining common parts falls to landlords, managing agents or owners.  It is worth checking.

Would the founder be included as employees and the Board of Trustees be considered the employer?

The term employee is defined under health and safety law.  This is someone working under a ‘contract of employment’ or an individual deemed to be ‘de facto’ an employee.

Further information is available at: Status of workers

What if your volunteers work outside on gardening projects of the charity?

Under health and safety law, if the charity is an employer then they would need to afford them a similar level of protection to that of their employees.  If the organisation is not an employer, they would need to make sure that any equipment provided for use by them was safe.  They would also have a duty of care for those volunteers involved.  

Further information is available at: Health and safety at work: criminal and civil law