£135k Penalty for Care Home after Resident Dies: Ensure Your Risk Assessments Cover Non-Employees

The owner of a care home has been fined £100,000, plus £35,000 in costs, after health and safety failings lead to a resident dying from burns from a radiator pipe and valves. The care home owner pleaded guilty to a breach of Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, which applies to non-employees. An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive found that radiator surface temperatures within the room were 73°C and the ancillary pipes and valves were not covered. Read on for tips on how to carry out effective risk assessments in your workplace.

£135k Penalty for Care Home after Resident Dies: Ensure Your Risk Assessments Cover Non-Employees

As an employer, you have a duty to ensure the health, safety and welfare not only of your employees, but also anyone else who may be affected by the work you carry out. The important qualification to this duty is that it applies only ‘so far as is reasonably practicable’. This means the law takes into consideration the material risks to health and safety that any reasonable person would take steps to guard against. So where and how should you begin? 

5 Top Tips for Carrying out Robust Risk Assessments

  1. You need to start by carrying out a risk assessment of the work activities within your business, in consultation with the people who do the work. For each hazard you identify, you need to be clear about who might be harmed. This includes contractors, non-employees, etc. If you share a workplace with another employer, consider how your work affects the other business and vice versa. It’s a good idea to meet with the other employer to discuss risk assessments and to ensure that nothing has been overlooked as a result of assumptions being made.
  2. Once you have identified your hazards, you need to evaluate them by deciding how likely it is that harm will occur to people in your workplace. Look at your accident records – these are usually a good indicator of what kind of injuries your workers and others have sustained over time. If you employ five people or more, the risk assessment must be recorded.
  3. Implement control measures by eliminating or avoiding the risk, containing the risk at source or by applying engineering or technical controls.
  4. Review your risk assessments regularly, e.g. when purchasing new equipment and chemicals, when changing work procedures or following an accident. There is no need to re-write the whole assessment – simply add the new findings to the original and apply a new date.
  5. Make sure staff are aware of the findings of your risk assessment and they are clear as to what they should be doing to make their workplace safer.

Putting health and safety at the heart of your business does not have to be costly or time consuming but getting it wrong may result in accidents and hefty fines.

Make sure you don’t fall foul of health and safety law. Read Health and Safety Adviser and get practical advice and essential guidance on how to meet all of your workplace responsibilities.