Health and Safety for Commercial Property Owners
As Commercial Property owners we have a wide range of legisltation with which we must comply. The situation is further complicated by your obligations to and relationships with tenants. Where do I start?
Ultimately the division of Health and Safety responsibilities is often the subject of negotiation between landlords and tenants and will consequently vary from case to case according to what is stated in the lease. Steps should be taken to ensure that the terms of the lease are very clear on the matter.
Once the responsibilities have been established, including shared responsibilities, a full risk assessment should be carried out. Training requirements and a communication plan will be established. Under the Health and Safety at Work Act, there is a general requirement to provide safe access and egress. If plant and equipment is provided (e.g. lifts) there is a duty to ensure this is used safely.
Landlords and managing agents are likely to have a duty to share responsibilities if they exercise any control over the workplace. This is particularly relevant where several businesses operate in the same building and use common areas such as reception halls, lifts and stair wells. If ,for example, there is a service charge for the stairs or for a lift to be cleaned and maintained and for use of toilet facilities, it is likely that the landlord will have responsibility for ensuring compliance with health and safety rules in these areas.
Some of the relevant topics requiring consideration are likely to be the following:
- Gas Safety
- Fire Safety
- Electrical Safety
- Duty to manage asbestos
- Water Supply/control of risks of legionella virus and other waterborne pathogens
- Maintenance of building exterior and common internal areas
- Maintenance and inspection of lifts
Clearly where occupiers carry out tasks specific to their business, such as manual handling and use of display screens then this will be their internal responsibility. Individual businesses should also carry out their own fire risk assessment, however this should dovetail with that carried out by the property owner or their agent.