In the UK, if you want building work done, you will typically need to hire professional contractors. While small jobs can be tackled by yourself if you are skilled at DIY, if you need certification for the work being carried out, you will need someone trained and certified to sign off the work.
Since you are hiring someone to undertake the work, you might assume that their safety on-site – your building – is their own responsibility. But as the saying goes, health and safety is everyone’s responsibility, and you may have some considerations to make.
Can I Be Liable for a Tradesperson’s Injury?
In the UK, courts are not eager to place the blame on individual property owners for injury, and you may never give a passing thought to the safety of someone you hire to carry out a job. However, there are instances where you may have liability for an accident.
If you hire someone to undertake construction work on your home or office and they arrive with all their own equipment, set it up themselves and are injured as a result of their own unsafe work practices, you are unlikely to be liable for their injury. If, however, you provide equipment (e.g. a ladder) and that equipment is faulty, if that faulty equipment directly causes injury, you could be liable and a claim could be made against you. In this scenario, though, the person in question would have to prove that they did not adjust or misuse the equipment they were provided.
Beyond equipment, asbestos is still an issue in many buildings in the UK, and those who are involved in renovations have some responsibilities. For example, if you are selling your home or building, you must inform the buyer about any asbestos in the building. If someone is working on your building, you must inform them about its presence, or you could potentially make yourself vulnerable to litigation. Asbestos exposure can lead to conditions such as mesothelioma, a type of cancer that affects the lungs, and is almost always the result of exposure to asbestos. As more tradespeople are making mesothelioma claims, it’s important to educate yourself on your building and the responsibilities that come with it.
Many inexperienced business owners, or those who work from home, may neglect to get public liability insurance, which will cover the costs of any claims brought against you by contractors or their legal advisors. Most solicitors won’t pursue a case against you if you don’t have insurance, but it is worth having, just in case.