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We’ve worked with charities, volunteers and not for profit organisations since day one. In March this year we won the tender for Action on Hearing Loss (the trading name of the RNID) to provide a range of courses including manual handling, food safety, infection control, risk assessment, first aid and medication. Also, in both of our kitchens here at Acorn you will find sweet boxes where the proceeds go to Kidney Research UK. Just last weekend our Director, Danny, took part in RideLondon, a 100-mile ride through the streets of London to Surrey and back again, raising money for the Motor Neurone Disease Association (MND) which provides support for sufferers of MND and their families.

This month we are answering the single most asked question on how health and safety legislation affects those working, or volunteering, within charities, voluntary and not for profit organisations – “We are a Charity. Does health and safety law apply to us as we use volunteers?”

Such organisations are major employers in the UK with an estimated 2.3 million people employed as paid staff. This is equivalent to 7% of the total UK workforce in 2014 – more than the workforce of the NHS, the UK’s single largest employer (1.5 million employees), and same as for the construction industry (2.2 million)*

*(Source: NCVO/ UK Civil Society Almanac 2017).

However charities are often not viewed as businesses as they are not profit-making concerns and they often rely on unpaid volunteers.

The average age of volunteers is older than the general working population, often employing retired people whose fitness and mobility may be declining.

In addition, many charities exist in run down accommodation e.g. old shops, converted churches etc. They may not have been properly surveyed and works may be carried out by well-meaning individuals who may not have the necessary knowledge, skill or equipment to carry out works safely.

Health and safety legislation doesn’t generally apply to someone who is not an employer, self-employed or an employee, in other words an individual or group of volunteers.

However, as in any other sector, the Health and Safety at Work etc. act 1974, and the regulations made under it, apply if any organisation (including a voluntary organisation) has at least one employee.

And of course voluntary organisations have a duty of care and responsibility to ensure the safety and wellbeing of employees, volunteers and anyone else they may come into contact with during the course of their activities.

Therefore, whilst in some instances the law may not be applicable, it would make good sense to use the law as a guide to good practice when considering the activities of the organisation, especially those Regulations termed the ‘six pack’.

The ‘six pack’ is the core set of health and safety rules which businesses have to be aware of and comprise of:

  • The Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations
  • Manual Handling Operations Regulations
  • Display Screen Equipment (DSE) Regulations
  • Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations
  • Provision and use of Work Equipment Regulations
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Regulations

We can provide advice and training in the following areas, all of which are relevant to the charity / voluntary / not for profit sectors:

  • First Aid
  • Healthcare / Medication
  • Food Safety
  • Fire Safety
  • Manual Handling
  • Health and Safety

We are a leading provider of health and safety consultancy in the South West. Whether you require support with a one-off assessment or a complete health and safety management system we can help

Our pragmatic advice, flexibility and experience in this sector helps keep organisations safe and allow informed decisions to be made relating to health and safety expenditure.

If you’re unsure what to do, pick up the phone or drop us an e-mail, we are always happy to talk and offer an initial 1 hour of consultancy free or charge and without obligation.  If you live in or near Bristol we’ll likely invite ourselves around for a tea or coffee!

Nigel Braybrooke