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Health and Safety Policies in Tourist Accommodation:

Risk Assessments for B&Bs, Hotels, Guest Houses and Self-Catering Holiday Lets

    As a provider of accommodation you are carrying on a business whether you are providing self-catering accommodation, are a guest house or a hotel, or are simply providing a camp or caravan site.  If you have employees then you have health and safety obligations to your employees.  You also have health and safety obligations to anyone who might be affected by the carrying on of your business.  That would include your guests and any visitors, or contractors or anyone else who may visit your premises.

    See out Guides for a definition of employee and employer.

    The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSW Act) imposes legal obligations which amount to criminal offences, if the obligations are not met.

    Section 2 (2)(a) of the HSW Act requires employers to provide and maintain plant and systems of work that are, so far as is reasonably practicable, safe and without risks to health.

    Section 3 of the HSW Act requires all businesses to conduct their undertakings in such a way that, so far as is reasonably practicable, people who are not employees  but who may be affected by your business (for example guests, tradesmen and visitors), are not exposed to health and safety risks.

    In addition, people in control of non-domestic premises (that is, any premises used for businesse) have a duty (under section 4 of the HSW Act) towards people who are not their employees but who use their premises.

    Even if you do not have any employees and do the work yourself, Section 3 of the HSW Act requires that you pay attention to the legislation but most businesses providing accommodation have at least one or two employees, for example, doing the cleaning or maintenance work, and are therefore be subject to the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSW Act) and subsidiary legislation.

    The HSW Act imposes duties on everyone involved in managing the accommodation.  See our Guide for Managers for more details on the position of managers who are not owners.

    As an employer you must conduct risk assessments and you must have a health and safety policy. See our guide to minimum requirements for all employers. In addition you must make your accommodation safe, so far as is reasonably practicable.

    The following is a list of some of the things you need to consider.

      The law does not expect you to eliminate all risk, but you are required to protect people as far as is ‘reasonably practicable’.  You are legally required to assess the risks in your workplace so that you put in place a plan to control the risks.  To do this a ‘risk assessment’ is required.  A risk assessment is a simple examination of what, in your accommodation, could cause harm to people, so that you can decide whether enough precautions have been taken to protect your employees and anyone else using your premises.  When thinking about your risk assessment the two important things to remember are:

      Hazard – a hazard is anything that may cause harm, such as chemicals, electricity, working from ladders, an open drawer etc;

      Risk – a risk is the chance, high or low, that somebody could be harmed by theses and other hazards, together with an indication of how serious the harm could be.

      What is a Risk Assessment?

      You must conduct an assessment of the first aid needs of your employees.  You are not obliged to provide first aid for your guests but you may wish to consider them when conducting your assessment.

      Requirements for First Aid in the Work Place

      You will be required to report certain accidents, including certain accidents involving your guests under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR).


      Most of the laws covering product safety are derived from the Consumer Protection Act 1987 (CPA). This states that where goods are ‘supplied’, in the course of a business, to consumers certain safety standards must be met. The following list is not exhaustive.

      Upholstered Furniture
      Electrical Appliances
      Gas Appliances
      Oil-fired Boilers
      Heaters and Fires

      You will be considered a supplier of the goods (including the furniture and equipment) in your accommodation if it is available for use by your guests. In each case you must ensure that the products are safe to use and are provided with proper instructions for their use.

      Product Safety

      The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations apply to just about all electrical equipment likely to be present in your accommodation. If you are making that equipment available to guests then you will be considered to be supplying it.

      Electrical equipment which is “supplied” must be safe, including supplied as part of the letting of accommodation.  These items include kettles, toasters, TV’s, table lamps etc.  The Plugs and Sockets (Safety) Regulations 1994 also requires that plugs must comply with BS1363, have sleeved live and neutral pins and be fitted with a correctly rated fuse.

      Electricity in the Workplace

      Any gas appliances must be installed and maintained in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions.

      They must also be maintained and installed by a qualified Gas Safe engineer and inspected at least once per annum.

      Gas Safety

      Any oil-fired boiler installations must be installed and maintained in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions.

      They must also be maintained and installed by an OFTEC registered engineer and inspected at least once per annum. Oil storage tanks must be safe and their location must conform to fire separation requirements.

      Oil-Fired Boilers and Oil Storage Tanks

      Liquid Petroleum gas (propane or butane) are highly flammable gases sometimes used to power gas hobs in areas where there may not be another gas connection.

      LPG should not be used without a specific written risk assessment that covers the installation and maintenance of the appliances and the storage and use of the LPG itself, including a COSSH risk assessment.

      COSHH - Liquid Petroleum Gas

      The Fire Safety Order 2005 replaces previous fire safety legislation and requires all businesses to conduct a fire risk assessment and to put into place adequate fire prevention and evacuation procedures.

      If your premises are an HMO, flat or maisonette they will also be subject to the Housing Act 2004. Further information regarding the scope of the Housing Act can be found by contacting your local housing authority.

      Fire Safety Order

      The above list is not exhaustive. In particular, you should also consider the water supply, any regulation relating to the provision of caravans or mobile homes and the very extensive regulations governing catering.

      Help is available from your local authority

We will be happy to help you conduct a full risk assessment of your business: Email the We'll Do It For You Team.

If you prefer to do your own risk assessments and write your own policy, then you may view pages from our Online Risk Assessment for the Tourist Industry from our sister company and purchase one of their health and safety policy templates. If you try to do it yourself and then change your mind, we will do the job for you and refund whatever you paid for the online assessment.

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