Risk assessments - what they should include
When you need to remove trespassers from a site, whether they be travellers, protesters or squatters, a risk assessment is essential before starting the operation.
Whichever company you use to undertake the eviction should take the lead in developing the risk assessment, although you may also wish to prepare your own and then assess and plan in conjunction with the eviction service provider.
The purpose of the assessment is to identify potential hazards and to develop control measures to eliminate those prior to the operation or mitigate them to a manageable level, so that the operation can proceed safely.
Below are the key areas that the risk assessment should cover:
Potential for violent resistance
If there is the potential for active resistance which may include the use of violence – very likely if it is a protest – there are health and safety implications to take into consideration. These might impact on the safety of the trespassers, as well as the enforcement agents removing them, members of the public and any of your team or contractors on site.
At the National Eviction Team we have experienced blows and kicks, weapons and projectiles, as well as the use of dangerous substances and missiles, not to mention verbal abuse and threats.
The protesters may also put up physical obstructions to prevent access to the site, which may include lock-ons, as well as barriers or structures at height and sometimes underground. Lock-ons can be constructed with substances which themselves create safety hazards when the enforcement agents start to remove them.
When preparing the risk assessment in this area, the key aspects are the conditions of the site, the potential number of occupants and their demeanour.
Other health and safety risk factors
It is always wise to look at survey reports of the site to see if there are hazardous materials present, such as asbestos, so a specialist team can be brought in.
Other risk factors include minor injuries from uneven ground and sharp objects either on the ground or on surfaces, particularly where it looks as though there may be intravenous drug use by occupants.
Vigilance is necessary to ensure that your staff, enforcement agents, members of the public and occupants on the site are protected against injury occurring as a result of actions taken by the occupants to resist eviction. It is also needed to prevent anyone else coming on site to support the trespassers or to further disrupt the eviction.
If you would like any assistance with the removal of trespassers, travellers or tenants, please get in touch.