Creating a safe environment
A selection of downloadable resources and advice about creating a safe environment for your museum’s employees, volunteers and visitors.
Museums have a responsibility to create a safe environment for employees, volunteers and visitors through undertaking risk assessments on their building and activities and ensuring that they have public and employers (if you employ staff) liability insurance.
There is a lot of additional helpful information on the Health & Safety Executive website although some of it tends to be tailored towards larger organisations. The Health and Safety Made Simple page is a good starting point.
Health & Safety Policy
Small museums with less than five employees or that are voluntary run are not legally obliged to draw up a health and safety policy, but are strongly advised to do so, because it sets out responsibilities and procedures for ensuring the health and safety of everyone involved with your organisation, including your visitors.
This Health and Safety policy doesn’t need to be long and complicated. There is a sample template on the Health and Safety Executive website that you can use to create it. This template Health and Safety policy also includes a section for your risk assessment so you can record everything in one document.
The aim of a risk assessment is to be able to demonstrate that potential problems were identified, and most importantly, that steps were taken to lower risk. Risk assessment is a systematic review of premises and activities with the potential to cause harm and damage.
There are five steps to producing a risk assessment:
- Identify the hazard
- Decide who or what may be harmed and how
- For each hazard, evaluate the chance, big or small, of harm actually being done and decide whether existing precautions are adequate or whether more should be done
- Record the significant findings of risk assessment, such as the main risks and the measures you have taken to deal with them.
- Review the assessment from time to time, and revise if necessary.
Download the Health and Safety Executive Five steps to risk assessment PDF.
There is a risk assessment template included in the Health and Safety Policy template.
The main types of risk are:
- water damage
- accidental damage/ vandalism
- building awaiting restoration or under construction
- slips, trips and falls
- grounds maintenance
- manual handling
- substances hazardous to health
- moving machinery
- food safety
Fire Risk Assessment
Following the Government’s Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order in 2005, a ‘responsible person’ must take ‘reasonable steps’ to reduce the risk from fire and ensure people can safely escape if there is a fire. The Order applies to virtually all premises and every type of building, apart from private homes.
What you need to do under the Order:
- Carry out a fire risk assessment identifying any possible dangers and risks
- Consider who may be especially at risk (e.g. someone with a disability)
- Get rid of or reduce the risk from fire as far as is reasonably possible and provide general fire precautions to deal with any possible risk left
- Ensure that there is protection if flammable or explosive materials are used or stored
- Create a plan to deal with any emergency
- Review your findings when necessary.
The HSE have produced a leaflet called ‘First Aid at Work’.
‘First Aid at Work’ is aimed at employers in small and medium workplaces. The Regulations require you to provide ‘adequate and appropriate first-aid equipment, facilities and peoples so that your employees (or volunteers) can be given immediate help if they are injured or taken ill at work.
As a minimum, you are recommended to have:
- A suitably stocked first-aid box (details in First Aid at Work)
- An appointed person to take charge of first-aid arrangements
- Information for all employees giving details of first-aid arrangements.
Under the Regulations, you do not have a legal duty to provide First Aid for the public when they visit your premises, but HSE strongly recommends that you include them in your First Aid provision.
The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995, commonly known as RIDDOR 1995, require the reporting of certain specified work-related accidents, diseases and dangerous occurrences to the proper enforcing authority. The purpose of the regulations is to enable the enforcing authorities to identify where and how risks arise and to investigate serious accidents. These regulations apply to all work activities, but not to all incidents.
Under the regulations an employer is required to notify the enforcing authority if there is an accident (including acts of physical violence) connected with work, and the accident results in:
- A fatality to anyone
- A major injury to employees/ volunteers
- An employee having to take more than three consecutive days off work
- An injury to non-employees that requires hospital treatment
- One of the specified dangerous occurrences
- Death of an employee/volunteer within one year of being injured.
The easiest way to report an incident is to call the Incident Contact Centre on 0845 300 99 23.
You will be sent a copy of the information recorded and you will be able to correct any errors or omissions. Generally speaking the notification should be by telephone as soon as possible giving brief details about the organisation, the injured person and the accident. The organisation must keep records of reportable accidents for at least three years, generally, in an Accident Book. A photocopy of the form submitted to the enforcing authority is acceptable. This must include the date and method of reporting; the date, time and place of the event, personal details of those involved and a brief description of the nature of the event or disease.
Public Liability Insurance
It is strongly recommended that any organisation that own or controls premises, holds public events or has any dealing with the public takes out public liability insurance. It can be extended to protect the organisation against claims from volunteers arising from injury or sickness as a result of negligence by the organisation. In general, however, it protects the organisation for claims by third parties, including service users and members of the public for death, illness, loss, injury or accident cause by the negligence of the organisation.
AIM Focus Paper: Risk Management and Insurance for Museums
This AIM Focus Paper identifies the key areas of insurance that are relevant to museums and explains how insurance dovetails with risk management to protect property owned by a museum, including the collection, as well as protecting staff, volunteers and visitors. This information has been produced to help museums in the development and maintenance of risk management systems with the aim of reducing and preventing losses.
Download the AIM Focus Paper on Risk Management and Insurance for Museums