Who holds Health & Safety responsibility in shared buildings and communal areas?

About the speaker…

Lee Mockridge joined Citation in 2007. With a NEBOSH General Certificate, NVQ Level 5 in Occupational Health & Safety and Fire Risk Assessment and HACCP qualifications to his name, his experience and expertise of Health & Safety requirements is far-reaching.

You’ve asked. We’ve answered.

Multi-occupancy premises are buildings where more than one business operates from, either on a full or part time basis. Those individuals need to communicate with each other to make sure that Health & Safety standards are maintained.

1. Who has the Health & Safety responsibility of communal areas?

Responsibility mainly lies with the duty holders or the managing agent of the premises, that said, everyone holds a joint responsibility to maintain safety standards.

2. What’s included under responsibilities?

The duty holder or managing agent’s responsibility might include the upkeep of the fire alarm, fire-fighting equipment, general housekeeping and maintenance of the access and egress points, for example. The shared responsibility is sometimes with the tenants too, and this might include some of the same areas, but mainly just the day-to-day management of the access and egress points their employees may use.

3. What should you do if other parties aren’t sticking to their responsibilities?

If another employer or neighbouring company isn’t sticking to their Health & Safety responsibilities, it’s important to communicate this to the managing agent or the duty holder, to make sure their responsibilities are held going forward. If they aren’t, there should be an ongoing issue surrounding tenancy and the means of communication within that.

4. Are all parties jointly liable if something goes wrong?

Although the party neglecting Health & Safety would be initially at fault, it is to the duty holder or managing agent to make sure that they’re penalised and/or communicated to if safety standards are slipping.

5. What if the accident is directly caused by an employee from one of the other businesses?

The jurisdiction or duty of care for looking after an employee’s behaviour falls down to the individual’s employer. If an accident or incident occurs and is subject to something that, that individual’s done, it would be at fault of the employer, but it may fall under the jurisdiction of the duty holder depending on what the accident or incident is.

6. Should all businesses have the same fire evacuation point?

This depends on how many employees an individual company has, the type of activity they conduct and the layout of the building. This could designate them to an individual escape route or to multiple depending on the size of the office – that also includes the amount of muster points or assembly points they have, because you can’t have too many people in any single place.

7. Who pays costs if remedial work needs doing?

Who incurs the cost depends on who caused the damage, and where the damage was caused in terms of the layout of the building. The cost might be something that’s shared between all the different companies in the premises, or it might be something that falls under the cost of the duty holder or managing agent.

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