Select Page

charity safety responsibilitiesThis month we have chosen to look at a valuable resource within our communities, the village hall or community centre, which provide an important focal point for local residents and are used to host a wide range of events and activities.

The official definition of a village hall is “A charitable community facility that is available to the public in a particular area for community-related recreational activities”.

Anyone who has control of non-domestic premises, such as a hall, has legal responsibilities under health and safety law to take reasonable measures to ensure the hall, access to it and any equipment or substances present are safe for people using it, so far as is ‘ reasonably practicable’

Responsibility for the operation and maintenance of the hall may be organised by the owner or by a voluntary management committee.

A management committee can be regarded as a legal entity under health and safety law, even if it doesn’t employ anyone and is only made up of volunteers, however if it employs staff there will be wider responsibilities under health and safety law.

If only made up of volunteers it has no responsibility under the Health and Safety at Work Act for risks created by the work activity of others, such as those maintaining the building, or for the activities organised by those who use the hall.

However, where a management committee has control over the hall, they should take reasonable measures to ensure the hall, and any equipment or substances used there, are safe for the purpose visitors are expected to use them for.

Where more than one person or organisation has control over a building, they will all have joint responsibility for it.

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, examples would include;

  1. Appointing a management committee member as the Health and Safety Officer
  2. Keeping an up to date written Risk Assessment for the premises
  3. Have the fire extinguishers and fire alarm system checked annually
  4. Have the portable electrical appliances checked regularly, annually is recommended, by a competent person (PAT testing)
  5. Have the building checked to ensure there is no asbestos present and if there is take the right steps to manage it.
  6. Ensure if showers are present that a regime is in place to minimise the risk from legionella bacteria
  7. Maintaining high standards of hygiene in kitchens
  8. Remembering that Health and Safety issues may be different for different kinds of use and those using the facilities i.e. young children, those with disabilities
  9. Checking regularly for anything hall users may have moved or changed that may have undermined the hall safety rules

If you have a Health and Safety issue that doesn’t seem to be covered above, we recommend you seek some professional advice.

We can provide advice and training in the following areas, all of which are relevant to the management of village halls and community halls;
Health and Safety
Fire Safety
Food Safety
First Aid
Manual Handling

So whatever your need, feel free to contact us

Nigel Braybrooke Grad. IOSH. Health and Safety Consultant