The safety of visitors in the workplace

A health and safety briefing provided by the IET.

There are specific regulations relating to visitors who may enter the workplace. This includes company representatives or sub-contractors who may attend site meetings with engineers, or for the purpose of undertaking safety inspections.

Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 imposes general duties on every employer and the self-employed person, e.g. an electrical consultant to conduct their business in such a way as to ensure that people not in their employment are not exposed to risks to their health and safety whilst on the employer’s premises.

Section 4 extends this general duty to people having control of premises to which certain visitors are admitted. An employer or controller of premises, who fails to take reasonably practicable steps to protect visitors (such as customers in a shop, salesmen, delivery drivers, post office employees, contractors, factory inspectors, etc) from harm, is guilty of an offence under the Act and may be proceeded against accordingly. The employer may be prosecuted whether or not an accident has occurred.

Although employers are required in law to insure against contingent civil liabilities for bodily injury or disease sustained by employees in the course of their employment, they are under no similar legal obligation to insure against public liability.