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Health and safety for your customers

  • 21 July 2017

Health and safety for customers is a different situation than for your employees. While it’s true that there are still many of the same considerations that you need to keep in mind, providing them for your customers presents some other issues you need to consider.

We’ve highlighted what you need to know about keeping your customers safe.

Health and safety for your customers

Different legal obligations

The Health and Safety at Work Act specifies that you as an employer, ‘as far as is reasonably practical’, should take all possible provisions to ensure the welfare of your own employees through:

  • Minimising and managing risk, whatever hazards you may find
  • Providing adequate staff training
  • Ensuring safe usage of chemicals and other hazardous substances
  • Ensuring the maintenance and safe usage of equipment
  • Having a sufficient health and safety policy in place

While that may seem unrelated when it comes to your customers, the reality is that these considerations are relevant across the board. This is because customers who are on your premises are covered under Occupiers’ Liability.

What this means is that the owner of a business premises holds a duty of care for all those who come onto their property. It should be noted that you still hold that duty of care even if you rent the premises; the duty in this case will fall to the occupier and not strictly the owner.

So, by analysing your business, identifying and minimising all possible risks, while ensuring correct processes are used at all times, you ensure the safety of both your customers and your employees.  For example, if an employee slips on a wet floor that wasn’t signposted, you’re covered by employer’s liability insurance, but still failed to take reasonable provisions to reduce the risk, which could leave you open to fines.

If a customer slipped on that same wet floor, it leaves you open to legal action and the risk of even greater financial penalties.

The necessity of public liability insurance

Situations such as those are exactly why public liability insurance is necessary. While employer’s liability insurance and sufficient health and safety provisions are legal requirements, public liability insurance is not.

That said, you can’t really afford not to have a public liability policy in place should you deal with members of the public on your premises at any time. The financial risks to your business are too great to take that chance.

If you didn’t have public liability insurance and a customer slipped on an un-signposted wet floor, your business alone is directly responsible for any legal, medical, and compensation costs that arise from the action they might take against you.

On the other hand, if you made sure to take all reasonable steps to ensure safety by signposting the wet floor, and had both a comprehensive health and safety policy and public liability insurance policy in place the consequences are likely to be far easier to handle.

This way, you will be able to demonstrate that you took all reasonable precautions to ensure everyone’s health and safety by reducing risk, and the insurance policy means that you are covered should they be awarded any compensation.

It may even be the case that your thorough and professional attitude to health and safety will help demonstrate that you were not at fault whatsoever and leave you free of any potential financial penalties.

How FSB can help

Once all reasonable provisions have been made to ensure safety, you should find that your business can run more efficiently, with risks minimised and the threat of injury severely reduced.

FSB offers a Health and Safety Advice service to help you through every step of making your business as safe as possible. We provide you with:
  • Round the clock health and safety advice from industry experts on our Legal Advice Helpline
  • Health and safety policy template documents and guidance, written by experts in their field
  • Free health and safety factsheets and documents including accident reporting, manual handling and risk assessments
  • Online training modules

To find out more, get in touch with a member of our team or visit our Health and Safety Advice page.

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