Health and safety guidance
If you manage a Girlguiding property, there are some important health and safety requirements you need to know about
From small halls to large campsites - there are thousands of properties throughout the country used for guiding activities.
Your guide group may own its own property or you may just hire a room from a local church or school for only a few hours a week. In all of these venues, there is a duty to make sure they are safe places for girls, adult volunteers, employees and visitors.
If your group owns its property, then the charity trustees for your unit have the legal responsibility to comply with health and safety law. They must take reasonable steps to ensure that the property, and any equipment or substance 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.
Managing a property can be complicated. The charity trustees of a guide group can delegate the tasks involved to a management committee or to individual volunteers. Where a management committee has control over a guide property, they will have joint legal responsibility to comply with health and safety law.
Girlguiding at a national level is not responsible for your guide property, though we do offer a property holding service through The Guide Association Trust Corporation. The charity trustees of your guide group and the management committee are ultimately responsible for good management of the property, even if it is held in trust by the Trust Corporation.
What support is available?
This guidance will help you to effectively manage your property and to make sure it is always a safe place for users and visitors. Every guide property is, however, different with its own particular issues. It is not therefore possible for us to provide you with a comprehensive and exhaustive guidance.
If your processes to manage property are working effectively, there is no expectation that you use these tools instead, but we hope they’re helpful.
How do I do a risk assessment?
Risk assessments are a great tool for making sure things are as safe as possible. They help you think about what could cause harm and decide what you need to do to manage the risks.
Risk assessments are about identifying sensible measures to control risks, so think about how accidents could happen and concentrate on real risks – the things that are most likely and will cause harm.
- Identify the hazards in your building (a hazard is anything that may cause harm).
- Think about who might be harmed and how. This could be members of the public, leaders, people with accessibility needs and so on.
- What can you do to make this safer? You cannot get rid of all risk – it’s a part of everyday life – but you can take steps to manage it. For example, if you see a cable that could be a trip hazard, you can make it safer by taping it in place.
- Write it all down! You can use our risk assessment template to record everything. Having it in writing will help you remember what you’ve done, it also gives you something to share with your team.
- Don’t just put your risk assessment away and forget about it – as things change in your building, maybe you get new equipment or an accident does happen, you will need to revisit and update your risk assessment.
You should also check out our advice on risk assessments for your activities and events.
Risk assessment forms and useful resources
Risk assessment templates
- Risk assessment template for buildings and property (Excel) - you can use this blank template to risk assess your property.
- Fire risk assessment template (Excel) - this template has been created to assist the responsible person with the preparation of a property Fire risk assessment. Check out our guidance on how to use a fire extinguisher.
Property risk assessment toolkit
The property risk assessment toolkit can be used to help you understand your responsibilities and keep your assets safe. It has been designed to complement the steps you take across the property to manage risks from topics like fire, legionella, asbestos etc.
Pre-filled risk assessment form and related resources
By completing the pre-filled annual property risk assessment, you will be fulfilling your responsibilities for health, safety and welfare. The document aims to cover the most commonly found factors contributing to risk but is not exhaustive. These risk factors are grouped together by category and organised under different headings. For example, general risks, biohazards etc.
Throughout the document, some basic guidance is linked in blue. This guidance is not exhaustive and more detailed guidance on many topics raised can be found in the Property A-Z guidance document. The last section of the template provides space for recording and summarising any significant findings during the completion of this risk assessment. You will have space to write down a plan of action to eliminate any issues found.
As well as inspection at the beginning and end of use (opening and closing), regular checks throughout the year are useful.
Risk assessing your property – monthly
Follow up on your annual risk assessment by completing the monthly checklists.
- Monthly (1-6) checklist - this checklist provides you with a list of actions for your property for months 1-6. This should be used alongside the pre-filled property risk assessment.
- Monthly (7-11) checklist – this checklist provides you with a list of actions for your property for months 7-11. This should be used alongside the pre-filled property risk assessment.
For example, if you start using the new toolkit in August, you should complete the annual risk assessment in August and then complete the monthly (1-6) checklist from September to January. You should then use the monthly (7-11) checklist from February to August. Finally, you should complete the annual risk assessment in August and so on.
Opening and closing your property
These checklists suggest procedures for consideration before re-opening or closing your property. Having this process in place will ensure that it is safe and fit for purpose, and help you meet your legal responsibilities.
- Building re-opening checklist - download the building re-opening checklist when re-opening your property after it has been closed for an extended period to ensure that it is safe and fit for purpose.
- Building shutdown checklist - download the building closure checklist when closing your property for an extended period to ensure all arrangements are made to complete a successful shutdown of your building.
Information to help you do this
- Property A-Z guide - this reference document is aimed at providing you with a simple A-Z guide on the legal term and requirements to effectively manage your property. This is intended as general guidance and does not constitute as legal advice.
Contractor competency assessment – If you are hiring a contractor then there will be some level of risk associated to their presence on the property, regardless of the type of activity they are undertaking. Download this form to assess the competence of contractors and individuals contracted to do work on your property.
Contractor permit to work – Permit to work is required in relation to any construction, refurbishment and maintenance of buildings – excluding short-duration work from a step ladder. This document should be completed before any contractor activity can commence on the property.
Contractor signing in and permit to work system – This document explains the signing in and contractor permit to work process
Contractor signing in form (amber) – This document is used for signing into buildings built before 2000 with no known asbestos.
Contractor signing in form (green) - This document is used for signing into buildings built after 2000.
Contractor signing in form (red) - This document is used for signing into buildings with known asbestos.
COSHH assessment – COSHH regulations require you to do a COSHH assessment when using hazardous substances. Download this document to help you identify the hazards and to assess and control the risks.
DSE workstation checklist – You can use this checklist to help you complete a risk assessment and comply with the schedule to the health and safety (Display Screen Equipment) regulations.
Emergency evacuation notice - This is an example emergency evacuation notice. This will make it easy for visitors to understand how to follow your evacuation procedures.