Licensees warned to vet contractors to avoid liability for accidents

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Licensees must vet any contractors they use during refurbishments or they could be held liable for any accidents or injuries.A new approved code of...

Licensees must vet any contractors they use during refurbishments or they could be held liable for any accidents or injuries.

A new approved code of practice relating to the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations was brought in earlier this year by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

This means licensees and pub operators can now be held responsible for any safety breaches that occur during a building project on their premises, if they have not fully vetted the contractors first.

The issue surfaced earlier this year after a fire at the Centre Parcs leisure complex in East Anglia, which was started by a workman using a blowtorch on the roof.

Under the new code of practice, the owners of the complex will have to prove to investigators that they vetted the team of contractors thoroughly before work began or they could face a hefty fine. Licensees have been warned that they too could fall foul of the new code.

Pat Perry of Perry Scott Nash Associates, which specialises in overseeing refurbishments for pub companies, including JD Wetherspoon, is an expert in the field of construction safety.

She said: "Publicans and pub companies must appoint competent contractors - that means taking references and asking questions about previous work. They can also be held responsible if they fail to provide information on th risks contractors may face."

Licensees should:

  • get references from the contractor (and for any sub-contractor they may be using)
  • ask about previous experience
  • ask if they are a member of any trade association and then check for a reference
  • carry out a full risk assessment (for example a survey for asbestos)
  • ask for full details of their health and safety systems
  • employ a project manager on major jobs to oversee health and safety
  • allow plenty of time for the work to be done (you could be liable if you rush the contractor and something goes wrong).

Ms Perry added: "The HSE regards pub refurbishments as high safety risks because they are often fast-tracked, they employ a number of contractors, and they are often carried out while the pub is open."

Related topics Licensing law

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