Case shows homeowners can have health and safety responsibilities for builders
Most homeowners when they hire a builder for repairs or renovations are not responsible for health and safety, but a recent case has highlighted that there are exceptions to this rule.
A homeowner hired a builder to build an extension and dig a basement to provide space for himself and his family to live in the house. In normal circumstances, the builder is solely responsible for safety when working on scaffolding, operating machinery and wearing protective workwear.
After work had started, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspected the property and found a number of safety breaches including an electric pump in a pool of water and an unsafe walkway. The builder assured the homeowner that he would sort out these issues. The homeowner was asked in a letter by the HSE to provide a statement to help the HSE investigate the situation, but he did not want to get involved so ignored the letter.
If the homeowner had been classed as a domestic customer, he would have had no responsibility for safety, but in this case, the home had been bought in the name of the homeowner’s property letting company. Although he paid for the home out of his own personal money, he was not classed as a domestic customer, but a company.
Both the homeowner and the building company were prosecuted by the HSE. As a company director, he had responsibility for managing the project and this included being aware of safety issues.