Health Safety

Viewpoint - 08/04/2021

Health and Safety Guide for Asset Disposals

If you’re not worried about health and safety obligations for asset disposals, you really should be! We have put together this short guide to demonstrate why you need to take action, and how we can help you get it right.

Find out more

Your Health & Safety Obligations for Asset Disposals

All instructing clients have legal and statutory obligations under health and safety legislation, and an ‘absolute duty’ to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that employees, agents, contractors, and/or members of the public accessing a ‘site’ or auction venue under their control, are not unduly exposed to hazards/risk, and that fire, asbestos and other summary regulations are considered.

It should be noted that these responsibilities or ‘liabilities’ cannot be offset by appointing an agent or contractor, though liability can in some instances be reduced. 

Clients are legally required to ensure that anyone they appoint is competent, having the right skills, qualification and experience.

Over the last few years, HSE have successfully prosecuted on the following grounds:

- for ‘failing to ensure the health and safety of non-employees’ (failing to review risk assessments and method statements); 
- for ‘failing to plan work and appoint competent contractors’; for ‘failing to properly plan, supervise and manage work’; 
- for ‘failing to assess the potential for asbestos to be disturbed’.

These are just a few examples. 

What does good health & safety look like?

Our standard approach’ for all instructions, is to plan, manage and monitor every aspect of site safety at all stages of the sale process.  To achieve this, we:

  1. Undertake preliminary risk assessment/safety surveys to identify and evaluate risk to employees and contractors preparing sites/equipment for disposal, and members of the public and their contractors (non-employees) during subsequent viewings, asset removal/collections.  For high risk sites we employ an escalated procedure.
  2. Implement and ensure proportionate control measures to eliminate, reduce and manage risk.
  3. Ensure all purchasers and contractors receive information about site hazards, including site rules, and a safety induction where appropriate; that they are suitably qualified/competent to undertake works, particularly high-risk electrical/mechanical works, lifting operations, work at height, plant operation, etc., and that risk assessments and safe methods of work are obtained, reviewed and approved prior to allowing any works to commence.
  4. Provide a qualified LSH representative on site, to control access and manage site activities.
  5. Ensure that any chemicals or hazardous waste is dealt with in accordance with the CoSHH Regulations, and Environmental/Waste legislation requirements.
  6. Ensure that sites are handed back in a safe/secure condition, in accordance with instruction.

How we can help

We’ve been putting health and safety at the forefront of our disposal strategy for a decade. Our established policies/safe operating procedures are so embedded in our corporate culture that they are innate within advice, planning, decision making and actions, for all instructions requiring asset removal.

  • Our Project Directors are Members of The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).
  • Employees responsible for site preparation, overseeing viewings and asset removals, including contractor works, hold industry standard qualifications: Site Supervisors' Safety Training Scheme (SSSTS) or Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) Managing Safely, as well as First Aid at Work and asbestos awareness training.
  • We employ an independent, Chartered Member of IOSH, with 20+ years’ experience, to monitor and review site surveys, site activities, contractor documentation, and to evaluate high risk sites/activities.

We go further than any other commercial industrial auctioneers to ensure that our clients' interests are protected, and that works are undertaken safely.  When you instruct us to manage your disposal, you are in experienced, qualified, and safe hands.

The Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM)

Though it’s not widely understood or appreciated, many industrial and commercial auctions involve activities/works that fall under these regulations, which includes: removal of mechanical, electrical, gas, compressed air, hydraulic, telecommunications, computer or similar services, normally fixed within or to a structure.

We have an extensive portfolio of successfully completed CDM projects, and can advise Clients on their legal responsibilities.  NB: If a Client fails to appoint specific duty holders, they are deemed to be carrying out those duties by default, which can potentially leave them open to costly legal action.  

We have the requisite knowledge, skills, qualifications and experience with CDM, including fulfilling the roles of Principal Contractor and Principal Designer.  Our ability to provide these services ‘in-house’, ensures legal compliance, and results in a significant cost saving against outsourcing.

The cost of doing nothing

Workplace accidents are in the main completely avoidable, yet thousands are injured at work every year.  

All accidents come with associated costs, the majority of which are hidden below the surface like an iceberg. These indirect costs are unlikely to be covered by insurance, and it’s estimated that for every £1 of insured losses there will be between £8 and £36 of uninsured losses, along with a human cost that cannot be fixed or replaced - the loss of a life, or the loss of quality of life when considering serious or minor accidents, or work-related illness.  

In the period 2019/2020, there were 40 worker and 4 public fatalities, and 61,000 (reported) non-fatal injuries.

HSE issued 7,075 Enforcement Notices, successfully prosecuted 325 cases, and issued £35.8 million in fines, with the average fine being £110,000.



Get the latest insight, event invites and commercial properties by email