Staff slip but what’s next?
Q: One of our bar staff slipped on a wet floor, fell and broke his arm. He has been off work since the accident. We reported the incident using the RIDDOR process but haven’t heard anything yet – what do I do if someone comes to the premises to investigate? This has never happened before.
A. The regulator may decide to investigate this report, which will include a visit to the premises. The regulators will want to try and find out how the incident happened.
This will involve talking to staff members and the injured staff member. The regulator has powers to enter a workplace and investigate an accident, and they have a variety of powers including making requests for documentation.
It is likely the regulator will want to see things such as health and safety risk assessments for the premises, company manuals and policies, staff training records, CCTV etc. You must co-operate with the regulator and cannot refuse to provide information; if you do not co-operate, this could be considered an obstruction of the officer’s investigation, which is a criminal offence.
You will need legal advice and should instruct a solicitor as soon as you can, particularly if anyone is asked to attend an interview under caution. This becomes a legal process that can have ramifications on how the investigation continues. These situations can become very stressful but try to stay calm.
Making the most of space
Q: I am getting our premises ready for the warmer months and have decided to convert some outside space into a garden area, which will have tables and chairs for customers to eat and drink. We have spare space near the car park and want to make the most of it. What do I need to consider?
A. This sounds like a great idea and, if done correctly, can be a real asset to the premises in summer. But not considering things properly at the outset can cause a lot of issues. In relation to your premises licence, you need to check whether you have off-sales as well as on-sales, or whether the garden area is contained within the red line of the premises, to enable customers to drink alcohol – check your current licence thoroughly. It may be that the area you are considering isn’t covered by and a variation to the premises licence may be required.
You also need to consider the location around you – if you are in a residential area or otherwise in an area with low background noise levels, you should consider the effect the noise may have on those living or working nearby.
If you were to start receiving complaints from residents you may find that an environmental health officer is sent to consider if the noise is a statutory nuisance and, if it is, serve a noise abatement notice – definitely not what you want. It may be advisable to instruct a sound acoustician to carry out an assessment so you will be able to better mitigate any possible noise and prevent a noise nuisance occurring. Consider the location of the outside area very carefully – you say it’s near the car park – consider the safety of customers using the area and risk-assess the likelihood of them coming into danger from traffic. You owe a duty of care to your customers and staff – ideally you do not want them having to cross a car park to get to an outside area when carrying drinks and food.
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