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Health and safety: What you need to know

Monday 06 March 2017

An estate agency firm has been fined £200,000 for breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act, by failing to discharge a health and safety duty to a person other than an employee after a woman fell down a well during a property viewing last year.

Health and safety guidance within the property sector, especially when it comes to showing houses, is vague at best. It is important to ensure health and safety is considered and appropriate action is taken where necessary, and Propertymark agents have a duty of care to assess any risk to the public when it comes to house viewings.

This guidance covers some simple steps you can take to protect your business and customers.

Speak to the seller

Ask the current owner if there are any safety concerns you ought to be made aware of that you might not pick up on during an initial inspection. The seller should be able to tell you first hand of any dangers you will need to have knowledge of.

Assess the risks

Carry out a walkthrough of the property, completing a suitable and sufficient assessment and noting any areas of concern that may be potentially hazardous. Dangers such as missing floorboards, a faulty boiler, exposed wires or uneven paving should all be recorded in order to protect employees, contractors and members of the public.

Communicate findings

All findings should be communicated back to the office and any other members of staff who will be dealing with the property should be informed. Internal systems should be kept up-to-date so that all employees have access to any relevant property information and safety concerns.

Err on the side of caution

If the stairs look particularly steep in a terrace house or there is no lighting in the basement of an old cottage, a quick note to the potential buyer will remove any element of surprise and is likely to reduce accidents.

Be practical

It is easy to go over the top when it comes to health and safety, be practical and use your common sense. Whilst in some cases it may feel like you are stating the obvious, it is always better to be safe than sorry. 

By making customers aware of potential hazards, you will be offering a higher level of professionalism and customer service which will instil confidence and trust in your buyer. 

For more information about Health and Safety or our online training modules, please email courses@naea.co.uk or call 01926 417360.