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HSE prosecution on risk assessments

Monday 08 April 2019

NAEA Propertymark is working together with Strakers estate agents in Wiltshire and other stakeholders to develop practical guidance on appropriate levels of risk assessment to safeguard buyers on accompanied viewings.

Well established, agency Strakers were thrust into the national limelight following an incident on a viewing at a property in April 2016. Antony Bulley, Managing Director of Strakers outlines the incident in the current issue of Property Professional magazine and is keen to bring change to the industry, highlighting the need for routine, workable measures to be put in place at agencies across the country.

Antony reiterates how sorry he and the staff at Strakers are for the incident in 2016 and goes on to say: “Over the many years we have been in business we have applied common sense and relied upon experienced staff to assess situations, cordoned off areas of concern, put up signage and warned people to take care where appropriate.  What we hadn’t done is think of every viewing as a site visit, in effect, an extension of our everyday work place.”

The agent was fined £200,000 after a prospective house buyer, viewing a property, fell into a 30ft deep garden well.

HSE brought the prosecution. NAEA Propertymark is working with a number of stakeholders to create workable resources and guidance for agents and is highlighting the issue to agents at regional workshops across the UK in order that in future agencies understand more about the risks and can take steps in confidence to eliminate as much risk as possible.

Mark Hayward, Chief Executive, NAEA Propertymark said: “Agents need to understand the risks that are involved and the action that the Health & Safety Executive can take. It is important that agents acknowledge this and make all staff with responsibility for viewings aware of it.

“It is essential that, as with all risk assessment activity, procedures in relation to viewings are not rolled out as a generic one size fits all process. Clearly, arrangements must not be onerous, arrangements have to be practically workable but they must be genuine assessments based on skills and experience rather than a box ticking exercise.”