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What's the law?

  • All volunteers and organisations have a common ‘duty of care’ towards each other.
  • Volunteers are protected by health and safety legislation. The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 requires employers “to ensure as far as reasonably practicable that persons not in their employment, who may be affected by their undertaking, are not exposed to risks to their health and safety”.
  • Organisations must take reasonable care of their volunteers and this includes providing safe equipment and premises. They must also give volunteers information about hazards that could affect their health and safety.
  • A risk assessment (as required by the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999) will help clarify the hazards volunteers may face and how they can be overcome.
  • Health and safety regulations do not apply to voluntary groups with no employees. Nevertheless, it’s still important that volunteers are working in a safe environment, where risks have been assessed. The common ‘duty of care’ still applies here.
  • It’s important to ensure you have insurance cover – particularly public liability insurance. The HSE has published a guidance publication, HSG192, Charity and voluntary workers: a guide to health and safety at work.

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