Friday, 19 February 2010

Warning on staff injuries

Shropshire employers whose staff are injured on a client’s premises must take care as they could be held responsible.

Alison Carter, who leads our Personal Injury team, said even though the accident may have happened away from their usual workplace, the employer could still face a claim.

“When you send an employee to a client’s premises, responsibility for their health and safety rests between you as their company director, and the client. Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, employers are responsible for safeguarding the health, safety and welfare of their staff while they are at work – just because an incident may have happened off site does not matter.”

Alison said the client though also had some responsibility to anyone who may be on their premises, even if they were not an employee. “The Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957 says the client must ensure visitors to their premises are safe during their time on site, and don’t let them try to shirk their duties by passing them on to you as the person’s employer.”

She said the client must protect people against any obvious risks, such as ensuring there were no torn carpets or that there was sufficient lighting.

“If your staff regularly have to visit clients’ homes, ask them to complete a home visit checklist themselves – this will identify if there are any potential risks which you can then raise with the client. And if the worst does happen, and a member of your staff is injured, notify your insurers immediately, but don’t admit liability for their accident.

“Not only could you invalidate your insurance cover, but it’s likely the insurers will want to hear the client’s side of the story too before they make a decision on what happens next.”

Check builders' credentials

Shropshire companies planning building work at their premises must check their contractor’s safety records first.

That’s the warning from Graham Davies, our Senior Partner, who said the rules on health and safety for major building works had now changed. “Under the new rules, it’s now your responsibility as the client to check the credentials of any builders you plan to use, before you sign a contract.”

Graham said the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 meant that the Health and Safety Executive had to be notified in advance of any projects scheduled to last longer then 30 working days, or that involved 500 person days of work.

“Until the new rules were introduced, you could appoint a contractor to manage the work who would be responsible for ensuring any sub-contractors complied with health and safety legislation. If there were any problems, the contractor would be liable for their actions, but now the Health and Safety Executive would be likely to hold you, or your company responsible instead.”

Graham said if your building work qualified as a project that the HSE needed to know about in advance, it was a good idea to take advice on how to meet the health and safety requirements.

“Start by appointing a CDM co-ordinator to advise and assist, and a main contractor to plan, manage and co-ordinate the work. You will also need to use a qualified designer to make sure the work will be suitable and safe. The financial costs of meeting CDM requirements can be significant, so try to plan building projects so they stay within the 30-day limit to save your company money and to reduce the stress involved.”

Friday, 12 February 2010

Top ten pitfalls unveiled

Employers from across Shropshire will get the chance to hear a run down of the top ten pitfalls to avoid thanks to two local companies.

At Martin-Kaye Solicitors, we've joined forces with Turner Peachey Accountants to host an advice forum with a difference. The event will be held on Tuesday, February 23, at our offices at The Foundry, in Euston Way, and it’s the first time our two firms have worked together.

Our Senior Partner, Graham Davies, said: “This is an exciting opportunity for local employers to hear about the ten most topical issues on Shropshire’s business agenda. And we’re very pleased to be working so closely with Turner Peachey, who will bring an accountant’s perspective on the subjects we cover.”

Graham said the “top ten” had been chosen by Martin-Kaye’s Alpha team, who deal with a wide range of businesses to help them tackle employment issues.

“The team has reviewed the matters they have dealt with over the last 12 months, and they will now present the issues that employers should be looking out for, and how to avoid the pitfalls. Representatives from the Turner Peachey team will then explain the financial and tax implications of the situations that may arise.”

Graham said there had been an excellent response from employers so far, with many signing up weeks in advance for the event. There are still some places available at the free seminar, and interested employers should contact June Noto on 01952 272222 or visit www.martinkaye.co.uk and click on the Alpha logo to find out more.