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Village and community halls - legal responsibilities

Anyone with control of non-domestic premises (such as a hall) has legal responsibilities under health and safety law to take reasonable measures to ensure the hall, access to it and any equipment or substances provided are safe for people using it, so far as is ' reasonably practicable This means balancing the level of risk against the measures needed to control the real risk in terms of money, time or trouble. However, you do not need to take action if it would be grossly disproportionate to the level of risk. '.

Responsibility for the operation and maintenance of the hall may be organised by the owner or by a voluntary management committee.

The owner

The owner, for example a community association, charitable trust, or local authority, is likely to have health and safety duties (and fire safety duties) for those who use the hall where they still have control over it. For example, they should keep it in good repair, and have appropriate fire precautions in place.

The management committee

A management committee can be regarded as a legal entity under health and safety law, even if it doesn't employ anyone and is only made up of volunteers.

It has no responsibility under the Health and Safety at Work Act for risks created by the work activity of others, such as those maintaining the building, or for the activities organised by those who use the hall.

However, where a management committee has control over the hall, they should take reasonable measures to ensure the hall, and any equipment or substances provided there, are safe for the purposes visitors are expected to use them for.

Where more than one person or organisation has control over a building, they will all have joint responsibility for it.

The user

Users have responsibility for managing risks, so far as reasonably practicable, arising from their own activities when they have control of premises or control of equipment on the premises. If the user has at least one employee they will also have wider duties under health and safety law.

Updated: 2013-09-26