DO I HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT HEALTH AND SAFETY IN UNOCCUPIED PROPERTIES?

Static Author Display NameUncategorized

Empty building

The short answer is, of course, YES.

This is especially true if the property is only temporarily vacant and you are intending to safely re-occupy it at some point in the future e.g. once everyone can safely return from a period of lockdown.

Exactly how much you need to worry and what you will need to do to ease those worries will depend on your particular situation, some concerns may include:
• Malicious damage e.g. vandalism and arson
• Issues associated with any chemicals stored on the premises
• Possible deterioration of machines and equipment e.g. is there equipment that requires regular servicing, testing or maintenance e.g. regular lubrication and use to ensure it will continue working.
• Issues associated with general wear and tear e.g. if falling leaves block a gutter could this lead to water getting in and causing damage.
• Could legionella (or other) bacteria be growing in any stagnant water held in water systems, tanks etc

In order to tackle these concerns you may decide that someone should regularly visit any unoccupied premises in order to carry out necessary maintenance work and identify any issues that may be developing. While this will solve many problems, it can raise concerns about lone working, so what do you need to do.

The first thing is to make sure that any lone workers have the necessary training and supervision including regular monitoring. What training is required will depend on the nature of the tasks they are required to do but it should include both the routine tasks and any likely unusual situations such as breakdowns and recognising where they need to get additional help and advice.

Again the level of supervision, how regularly and how such workers should be monitored will depend on individual circumstances and your assessment of the risk. Some circumstances my just require a phone call or email once the work is complete other situations may require the worker to carry equipment that will either trigger an automatic alarm or which the worker can use to raise the alarm.

Please speak to your normal PIB Risk management contact or get in touch using info@pibrm.com if you have any questions about managing unoccupied properties or would like assistance with developing suitable policies and procedures.

PS as a general guide to control legionella risks it is recommended that outlets on hot and cold water systems are used at least once a week to maintain a degree of water flow and minimise the chance of stagnation. However if the property is going to be vacant for a long period it may be better to consider a flushing regime or draining the system.