Health and safety guidance

If you manage a property for your unit, 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. 

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. This guidance is just one that you should use to help you manage your property and there are other useful external resources and guidance to help you. Where these exist, we have provided links to them and you should make sure you refer to them too.

Managing risk in your building

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.

How do I do a risk assessment?

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.

  1. Identify the hazards in your building (a hazard is anything that may cause harm)
  2. Think about who might be harmed and how. This could be members of the public, leaders, people with accessibility needs and so on.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Useful resources

Health and safety in your property

Different sizes of building have different needs, so there is different guidance to follow to keep everything safe.

Use the links below to find the right information for your property: