Are volunteers covered by health and saftey legislation?
Volunteers are not usually referred to by health and saftey legislation that applies to employees, however the Health and Saftey at Work Act (1974) imposes a duty on every employer ‘…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’ and ‘…to give to persons (not being their employees) who may be affected in a prescribed manner information as might affect their health and saftey’. Organisations do have a duty of care to avoid causing injury to their volunteers. Organisations could be found liable following an accident if a court decides they failed to take reasonable care. Organisations should herefore carry out adequate, appropriate risk assessments, so that if any hazards identified then appropriate steps should be taken to minimise the risks to volunteers.