Duty of care is the responsibility of a person or institution to avoid acts or omissions that could foreseeably cause harm to others. Failure to provide an adequate standard of care may result in legal consequences.

Duty of Care Obligations 

A Duty of Care is owed to anyone who we can reasonably assume could be affected by our actions, or by our failure to act. 

In a professional or medical setting, for example, a duty of care exists between doctor and patient, manufacturer and consumer, employer and employee, etc.

There is a general duty of care on employers to ensure the health, safety and welfare of employees in the workplace. Any legal entity occupying a property—non-profit organization, school board, commercial enterprise, etc— has a duty to ensure the premise is reasonably safe and in compliance with all relevant health and safety codes, standards and regulations. 

Depending on the building and the nature of activities that take place in it, relevant safety codes, standards and regulations may include, but are not limited to:

  • Health and Safety Standards
  • Building Code
  • Fire Code
  • Plumbing Standards
  • Electrical Standards
  • Food Safety Laws & Regulations

Duty of Care in Public Services & Operations

Just as any private entity is responsible for ensuring the reasonable safety of patrons and staff on the premises, public facilities—playgrounds, swimming pools, skating rinks, libraries, etc—are bound by the same legal obligations.

Facility managers are required to identify potential hazards and develop policies and procedures to prevent or manage them. Inspections are carried out to ensure the appropriate safeguards are in place and working as expected. 

Facility inspections are crucial to public safety. When inspections are not carried out as required, or when documentation is lost or not properly communicated, public safety is put at risk.

Breach of Duty

Wherever there is a duty of care, there is an acceptable standard of care. Standard of care refers to the attention and care a person should reasonably provide to another person under the circumstances.

When standards of care aren’t met, this constitutes a breach of the standard of care. In the event of a breach, the person or institution responsible may be found to have been negligent and held liable for personal injury or damages, as was the case in Ingles v. Tutkaluk Construction

For example, let’s review the following hypothetical situation: 

  • A building’s health and safety plan specifies that all fire extinguishers must be visually inspected every month as per local fire codes. 
    • For whatever reason, these inspections are not done—or they are done but they’re undocumented. 
      • A fire breaks out in the building and one or more extinguishers turn out to be defective. 

In the above scenario, a safety risk was identified and a procedure was established to mitigate it. However, that procedure was not carried out (or could not be verified) and thus the standard of care was not met. 

As a result of this breach of duty, the person or legal entity responsible for maintaining the standard of care may be held liable for damages to the building or any personal injuries suffered. In the public sector, the municipality may be held liable for damages.

Inspections & Compliance in Local Government

Local governments struggle to complete the many thousands of inspections required to ensure public health and safety, as well as meet compliance standards. These include but are not limited to:

  • Playground Inspections
  • Public Facility Inspections (e.g. wastewater treatment facilities, swimming pools, arenas & skating rinks, roads & sidewalks, conference venues, parking lots, landfills, trails, etc.)
  • Building Inspections
  • Fire Safety Inspections
  • Health & Safety Inspections

Juggling all that paperwork across multiple departments inevitably results in inefficiencies, risk exposures and operational headaches.

Minimize Safety Risks & Eliminate Paperwork with CityReporter

It’s no wonder local governments are abandoning pens and clipboards for digital inspection solutions like CityReporter Inspection, Management & Workflow Tracking Software

CityReporter, developed by Noratek Solutions, is a user-friendly, intuitive and responsive tool that digitizes the inspection process. CityReporter helps teams in the public and private sectors manage:

  • compliance requirements
  • inspections and inspection documentation
  • code enforcement
  • permits and development
  • work orders
  • assets, vehicles and equipment

CityReporter is used by local governments and contractors across the United States and Canada. Find out who’s using CityReporter.

If you’re ready to start completing more tasks, with more accuracy, and in less time than ever before, contact us today.