By: Amanda Douglas
If you employ people or operate a workplace that others come to, and you have been affected by the recent earthquakes, you are likely to be thinking about your health and safety obligations.  In an emergency situation like this, what is required of those who control a place of work mostly comes down to common sense.  Your key drivers will be to ensure that people are not exposed to harm.  If there is something that should be done to make a workplace safe, you will need to do it.
Your obligation is to do what is reasonably practicable, which means that you do what is suitable in the circumstances to try to eliminate the risk.  If the risk can't be eliminated, then you minimise the risk. The more likely the risk is to occur, the more that should be done to eliminate or minimise the risk. 
You might need to have greater contact and communication about health and safety and risks with the other businesses or organisations with whom you work.  You will have overlapping duties to cooperate and communicate with those businesses or organisations to eliminate, or minimise, risk of harm.
Similarly, if your property or workplace has been affected, you need to communicate with others coming there.  From a health and safety point of view, you are responsible for people coming on to your property, so you need to take whatever measures you reasonably can to eliminate or minimise risks.
You are likely to need increased communication with the other businesses that you work with, or which come onto your property.  New or changed risks and hazards will need to be communicated, so the lines of communication will be very important.  If you have staff, you should think about what needs to be put in place to keep them safe.  This might be in the form of equipment or different ways of working. 
We are very happy to provide specific advice and guidance, or to discuss any concerns you have, please contact Amanda Douglas or Naoimh McSparron on 03 379 7622 in the first instance.
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