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Estate Agents In a State? A Praxis42 Practical4U: An Insight Into ELearning

Posted by Tracy Seward

A court judgement in a case held recently in Wiltshire has no doubt caused Estate Agents all over the UK to reconsider their Health and Safety responsibilities and related policies, procedures and employee training.

The case goes back to April 2016.  Lucy and James Driver attended an ‘open house’ event at a house which formed a part of the former owner’s estate.  The court heard that the representative of agents, Strakers, encouraged the couple to feel free to look around the garden while he stayed in the house.

However, as you may have read, Mrs Driver took a single step off the garden path and found herself descending 30 feet down a well.  She remained submerged in the water for an hour, clinging to a hose pipe lowered to her by neighbours.  The fire service arrived after an hour to rescue her.



The HSE Inspector told the judge that three days before the open house event Strakers had been informed by an earlier prospective buyer of the existence of the well under the piece of the board yet no action had been taken.

Their investigation concluded that Strakers had failed to assess the risks to the public. No health and safety management system had been in place for risk assessment in the case of properties that were part of a deceased person’s estate.  Serious risks such as asbestos or electrical safety could neither be identified nor controlled.

And although they argued that their culpability for the incident was low, Judge Simon Cooper said he found both Strakers’ culpability and the risk of harm to be high.  He concluded that “As a result of the breach a number of people were exposed to very significant harm.” This appears to reflect the new approach under the sentencing guidelines and the size of the subsequent fine.

Strakers pleaded guilty to breaching Health and Safety at Work Act by failing to discharge a general Health and Safety duty to a person other than an employee. The firm was fined £200,000.

That such an event can still happen prompts us to remind any interested parties of some of the key Health and Safety provisions that should be in place and considered – much of which can be gained through eLearning courses from Praxis42 at an average cost of £25 per course:

Managing Safety: This aims to give directors and managers the essential information they need to establish a health and safety management system as set out in the HSE publication ‘Health and Safety Management (HSG65).

Health and Safety Awareness: An ideal grounding to get employees thinking positively about their own health and safety at work, and that of others around them.

Office Safety: Ensure that your offices are compliant with current UK legislation and that employees know their responsibilities.

Display Screen Equipment: Agents use Display Screen Equipment in the office and increasingly often when at premises – so the Display Screen Equipment Regulations apply.

Slips, trips and falls: While falling down a well may be an unusual and isolated incident, slips, trips and falls account for the largest number of major injuries and lost time in the workplace.  All employees should know the best ways to manage this risk and, as this piece outlines, protect others too.

Working at height: Anyone who is expected to use a ladder, step ladder or even a chair to measure the height of a door, a room, survey damaged areas or anything else needs to be trained in Working at Height.

Asbestos Awareness: Even though asbestos was more commonly used in large commercial and municipal buildings, residential Estate Agents need to be able to recognise where it may be found in houses and outbuildings and adopt the right strategies for employees, vendors and buyers.

Fire Safety: As well as an awareness of fire risks within their office location, Estate Agents need to be able to factor in any fire risks before proposing that a prospective buyer (or anyone else) visits a building.

Driver Awareness and Driver Assessment: All over the UK, and even in built-up cities, busy Estate Agents tend to drive a great deal; and are often in a hurry.  Make sure that they know what is expected of them with these short two eLearning courses.

In conclusion, Praxis42 offers all of the eLearning courses that any residential or commercial Estate Agent needs to help them avoid a £200,000 fine, or possibly worse. If you are not sure how to establish a health and safety management system or which policies, procedures and training/eLearning you need to put into place to avoid a significant fine., or possibly worse, our Consulting division can offer you pragmatic advice that you need.

To purchase courses online visit Praxis42 at www.praxis42.com/eLearning or contact Tom at tom.paxman@praxis42 or on 0870 446 4201

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