If you work as a builder, you might not deem your business to be public-facing in the same way as a retailer, for example. However, your work would still regularly bring you into contact with members of the public. For this reason, you should think carefully about how you can protect the public from your activity and also reduce your liability for injuries to people or property.
Fortunately, protecting the public – and, thus, yourself from a costly legal case – can simply be a matter of taking suitable precautions to prevent your working practices posing inadvertent hazards.
Work on a construction site? Then secure it appropriately
If you run a construction site, you are also responsible for something that is a hazard to people who trespass into it. Fortunately, there are various measures which you can take to prevent unauthorised people from entering the site – including many Government-approved techniques.
The Health & Safety Executive has published a document revealing how builders can secure their construction sites. A builder can regularly assess the condition of their boundary fence or hoarding; if it is falling down, this would be compromising its security.
When assembling scaffolding under or near which people will walk, it would be wise to net that scaffolding and cover the boards. Alternatively, you could barrier off that area to prevent people other than builders getting close to the scaffolding in the first place.
Be careful with how you leave the site
You might have to divert public pathways – in which case, lay out the route in such a way that pedestrians and traffic are kept separate. To ensure this, you might need to use barriers. If you want vehicles to be driven safely off the site, using a banksman can help you to ensure that this happens. A banksman is the person onsite who has responsibility for directing large vehicles like lorries and cranes.
You should keep track of who is on the site at any given time. To this end, once you and every other authorised builder on the site have finished using it for the day, close the gate after they have left. Don’t forget to also securely lock up that site before you head home.
Take out public liability insurance
Sadly, however carefully you might try to limit the risks where you work, you can never entirely rule out the possibility of something adverse occurring beyond what you had deemed probable. Hence, you could benefit from giving yourself a safety net in the form of public liability insurance.
With this type of insurance under your belt, you would be better-positioned to fund a compensation payout if, due to your work, a member of the public suffers an injury or property is damaged. The insurance could also pay for legal costs and expenses of defending a claim, says the Federation of Small Businesses website.
You could initially struggle to find public liability cover that ticks enough of the right boxes for you. However, Tradesman Saver offers public liability insurance policies so tailored that even self-employed builders cover is available. You can use the Tradesman Saver website to obtain quotes for public liability cover and various other forms of insurance.
Note if you are using a builder at your home or business you should ensure they have comprehensive public liability insurance to ensure that you don’t end up being liable for any damage to people or property the builder causes.