Risk assessments needed to make business premises safe

Employers must ensure all areas of their business premises are safe after Bolton Wanderers Football Club was fined almost £100,000 over the death of a 14-year-old boy in the stadium car park.

The club was ordered to pay the fine when Christopher Ormesher died after crashing his motorbike into a set of chains at the Reebok Stadium car park in 2003, even though he was technically trespassing.

The firm had already been warned by the council after several similar accidents but it had failed to implement the agreed safety measures.

The case will serve as a warning to employers because under the Health and Safety at Work Act, businesses have a duty to protect the safety of non-employees, even if they are trespassing.

Richard Harris, an expert in workplace accidents at litigation firm Davies Lavery said employers must take all practical steps to ensure the safety of people on site – even those who shouldn’t be there.

“If it’s foreseeable that people will come on to the property, even trespassers, employers have a duty to protect them. If you haven’t done enough to keep them out, or put up sufficient warnings of any possible dangers, then there could be legal difficulties in the event of an accident,” he explained.

He advised employers to carry out assessments of the potential risks to the public, as issues such as children playing football or skateboarding in company car parks at night can be overlooked.

“The second lesson to learn from this case is for managers and HR to ensure that any warnings are heeded and that safety measures agreed with local authorities are put in place and followed,” he added.

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