Steps to take
While the standard of care and the exact steps which an occupier must take will always depend on the facts, it is clear that a documented, practical approach to reviewing and addressing risks (such as posting appropriate warning signs and repairing any defects), and maintaining ongoing procedures for continual review will go a long way to proving to a court that you have met an appropriate standard of care.
You and your staff need to be constantly aware of any sources for potential for harm to your visitors, and to take all reasonable steps to prevent such harm occurring. This would include:
- Undertaking a formal review of your buildings and premises for any safety issues (preferably by a qualified inspector), and taking steps to appropriately remedy any faults
- In doing so, considering any additional or specific risks for children and/or the infirm who may visit your premises (including a careful review of any playground equipment and the like – the unfortunate reality is that such equipment may present an unacceptable risk unless it is professionally inspected and maintained on a regular basis)
- Using fencing, clear signage, or other means to designate those areas which are intended for public access, and to prevent access to areas which should be “off-limits” to customers (for example, clearly marking areas to which entry is prohibited, and providing clear signage and directions from, for example, the car park to the cellar door, and the cellar door to the toilet facilities)
- Having in place appropriate procedures and protocols for regular inspection of the premises themselves when they are open to the public (for example, looking for and cleaning up spills, broken glass and the like), and also regular inspections of outdoor and other accessible areas
- Incorporating protocols for phylloxera (and other disease) risk management in your review of risk, and in the steps taken to preclude or manage entry to certain areas – in many cases you may be able to “kill two birds with one stone” and minimise risk to your visitors at the same time as you minimise the risk of them causing damage to your vines
- Liaising with your insurance provider to ensure that your coverage is adequate, and to obtain advice about what further preventative steps can and should be taken.