Ian Thomas Associates

Health and Safety – UK case law update – hotel – lack of a health and safety policy

Dangerous work at height practices have featured in a health and safety case in the UK which was heard on Friday, 29th June 2012. On that date a Coventry hotel had its appeal against a fine of stg £42,000.00 rejected by a crown court judge.

Problems were caused during a five month period of refurbishment when the hotel had remained open to the public. The health and safety issues included, exposed wires, discarded building materials in corridors and blocked fire escapes.

Issues relating to work at height included workmen standing on a pile of tables to fit a chandelier and a worker who sat on the edge of a roof to fix a floodlight.

The court was told that the hotel did not have a proper health and safety policy and had failed to carry out risk assessments. The judge noted that it was a case of putting profit over safety.

There is nothing wrong in principle with undertaking work while a hotel or restaurant remains open to the public as long as people are not put at risk. If premises cannot be completely shut down during refurbishment work must be planned so as to protect members of the public as well as staff from being exposed to risks of injury. Consideration should be given to doing work in stages and closing parts of the premises on a staggered basis.

In addition to having the fine confirmed by the court, the hotel was ordered to pay more than £13,000.00 in costs. The potential damage caused by a court case to reputation and hence to the business in a competitive market could be incalculable.

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