It can be unclear who holds health and safety responsibility in communal areas of your school, such as in leisure centres. The Southalls team is able to assist with advice on this area and have summarised the main points below.

What are multi-occupancy premises?

Multi-occupancy premises are buildings where more than one business operates from, either on a full or part-time basis, leisure centres being the most typical example for most schools. Both parties must communicate with each other to make sure that health and safety standards are maintained, and to ensure your school remains compliant.

Who has the Health & Safety responsibility of shared areas?

Responsibility mainly lies with the duty holders or the managing agent of the premise. However, everyone holds a joint responsibility to maintain safety standards.

What’s included under Health & Safety responsibilities?

The duty holder or managing agent’s responsibility might include the upkeep of the fire alarm, fire-fighting equipment, general housekeeping and maintenance of the access and egress points, for example. The responsibility is sometimes shared with the tenants too, and this might include some of the same areas, but mainly this just includes the day-to-day management of the access and egress points that their employees may use.

What should you do if other parties aren’t sticking to their responsibilities?

If another employer or neighbouring company isn’t sticking to their health and safety responsibilities, it’s important to communicate this to the managing agent or the duty holder, to make sure their responsibilities are held going forward. If they aren’t, you should raise an ongoing issue surrounding tenancy and communicate within that.

Are all parties jointly liable if something goes wrong?

Although the party neglecting health and safety would be initially at fault, it is with the duty holder or managing agent to make sure that they’re penalised and/or communicated to if safety standards are slipping.

What if the accident is directly caused by an employee from one of the other businesses? 

The jurisdiction or duty of care for looking after an employee’s behaviour falls down to the individual’s employer. If an accident or incident occurs, it would be the fault of the employer of that individual, but it may fall under the jurisdiction of the duty holder depending on the nature of the accident or incident.

Should all businesses have the same fire evacuation point?

This depends on how many employees an individual company has, the type of activity they conduct, and the layout of the building. This could designate them to an individual escape route, or to multiple depending on the size of the building, which also includes the amount of muster points or assembly points they have. It is important to be mindful that too many people in any single place is also a health and safety risk, so ensure appropriate capacity at each fire assembly point.

Who pays costs if remedial work needs doing?

Who incurs the cost depends on who caused the damage and where the damage was caused in terms of the layout of the building. The cost might be something that’s shared between all the different parties on the premises, or it might be something that falls solely under the cost of the duty holder or managing agent.