An accident has occurred on our Estate!

 Bruce McFadzean   2019-09-27  Comments Client
Rooftop Safety2

I am a homeowner and a Trustee in a Residential Estate. We needed to replace some roof tiles of the Estate's Community Centre, due to severe leaks. I appointed a roofing contractor  who was recommended by many people on Facebook. Unfortunately, one of the contractor's workers fell from the roof and broke his leg.  We called a Health and Safety consultant, who has advised thet we, the Trustees, are now accountable for this accident. Surely the contractor should be, as the injured person is an employee of this contractor? 


You - the trustee - are liable


Bewildering as this may seem, you will be held liable. You became the ‘client’ (defined in the Construction Regulations as: “any person for whom construction work is being performed,”) when you appointed the roofing company, and have failed to comply with the Duties of the client (Construction Regulations,  Section 5).
Jacques Maree States: “The trustees have a duty to comply with health and safety requirements and to safeguard themselves and the body corporate against potential claims arising from any injuries or death caused as a result of construction work being performed at the scheme. Failure to comply with the provisions of the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Construction Regulations may result in personal liability claims, stiff fines being imposed, or even imprisonment.”
 
What happens now?
 
In this case, you may be charged with non-compliance and could be expected to fork out for the injured person's hospital bills and more. You may also be prosecuted for each transgression of the regulations, namely not performing a baseline risk assessment [CR 5(a)], not drawing up a Health and Safety Specification [CR 5(b)], not ensuring the contractor has the necessary competencies and resources to carry out the construction work safely [CR 5(h)]. These can carry a maximum penalty of R50,000 or imprisonment per conviction.
 
What should I have done?
 
This nightmare could have been avoided, had you ensured your Duties of Client were complied with. SHeFiles can assist you with everything you need to be compliant, starting with a Health and Safety Specification. You need to be fully compliant with all OHS Act (Occupational Health and Safety Act) provisions, and you may not indemnify yourself against liability by having your contractor  sign a conventional Indemnity Form. Contact admin@shefiles.co.za if you need to appoint a contractor, and sleep easy tonight!

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