Property Health & Safety | CDM Building H&S Compliance | HSE Fire Risk
Fire Safety Act 2021 and Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 New regulations introduced
The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 (GOV.UK) have been introduced. The Regulations that apply to England only are being introduced under Article 24 of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (Fire Safety Order) and came into force on 23 January 2023.
The regulations are limited to the following buildings in England.
- High-rise residential buildings.
- Residential buildings with storeys over 11 metres in height.
- All multi-occupied residential buildings with two or more sets of domestic premises.
Residential buildings with storeys over 11 metres
Responsible persons in multi-occupied residential buildings which are above 11 metres in height, and in high-rise buildings need to provide additional safety measures.
In residential buildings with storeys over 11 metres in height, responsible persons will be required to:
- Undertake annual checks of flat entrance doors and quarterly checks of all fire doors in the common parts.
All multi-occupied residential buildings
Responsible persons for all multi-occupied residential buildings with two or more sets of domestic premises including high-rise residential buildings are required to:
- Provide residents with information relating to the importance of fire doors in fire safety.
- Provide relevant fire safety instructions to their residents, which will include instructions on how to report a fire and any other instruction which sets out what a resident must do once a fire has occurred, based on the evacuation strategy for the building.
The Building Safety Act 2022
Remediation costs liability
A schedule to the act contains protections for leaseholders relating to certain remediation costs, and imposes corresponding liabilities on landlords of relevant buildings.
The schedule caps the amount that can be charged to leaseholders where landlords do not have the means to pay for any remaining non-cladding defects to £15,000, if the premises are in Greater London, or £10,000 for any property elsewhere in England.
If the qualifying lease is at least £1m in value but does not exceed £2m, then the permitted maximum is £50,000. If the qualifying lease is more than £2m in value, then the permitted maximum is £100,000. These figures will include interim costs to a tenant – such as paying for waking watch patrols – in the five years before commencement of the relevant provision.
There will be no costs for leasehold properties valued less than £325,000 in Greater London or £175,000 elsewhere in England. There will also be no service charge payable for each building to which the legislation applies if the landlord group’s net worth was more than £2m at 14 February 2022.
Fire Safety Act 2021
The Fire Safety Act passed into law on the 29th of April,. As a result , there is no longer any question that a Responsible Person has a legal responsibility to commission a Fire Risk Assessment which must include assessment of external walls and fire doors of flat entrance doors.
The Fire Safety Act 2021 amends the Fire Safety Order 2005
It introduces new legislation covering external walls and internal flat entrance doors to improve fire safety in residential leasehold blocks of flats.
Property Cladding and Building Safety Update
Building Safety Campaign group is pressuring for action to :-
• Extend the deadline for applications to the Building Safety Fund – the
current deadline has always been unachievable for most applicants,
particularly as the release of funds is proving very slow
• Introduce a risk matrix instead of a reliance simply on height as a qualifying feature – prioritise funding based on the risk to life
• Extend the fund to fix blocks of all heights, not just those above 18m and cover issues such as flammable balconies, unsafe structures, waking watch, unreasonable building insurance increases and alarms
– Meetings with MP’s continue and several sets of written questions have been asked in HoC, HoL and PM Q’s.
– Gov stance is that Developers and Building Owners should be asked to pay but the words “avoiding unaffordable costs” are starting to be seen re leaseholders.
– We hope for a Parliamentary Urgent Questions debate before parliament rises re the deadline and funding
– Weekly meetings with Cladding Action Groups – lack of communication is the main feedback
Grenfell enquiry revealed that Celotex falsified fire testing on RS5000 foam panels to pass their materials
– MHCLG announced that buildings without cladding do not require the EWS1 form
– MHCLG announced £700k to train 2,000 more building assessors via RICS. PI is still an open question
Property health & safety compliance for leasehold and freehold blocks of flats has never been more in the public spotlight as the Grenfell inquiry continues.
The health & safety inquiry into the Grenfell Tower disaster is set to restart in July following publication of the findings of the first phase of the report and summary findings however fire safety is not the only concern in residential leasehold blocks of flats.
In addition to statutory fire regulations, other key health & safety issues for leasehold property are wide reaching and include :
- safe working practices for maintenance and trade contractors,
- asbestos management,
- electrical inspection and testing,
- water hygiene management,
- safe maintenance of mechanical plant and equipment
- removal of trip hazards and the like and
- maintenance of safety, preventative and warning systems
It is important that your property managing agent and block management company put in place adequate property health & safety procedures. These include CDM heath and safety compliance, fire risk assessments, regular inspections and statutory building safety systems for residential blocks of flats and estates which all form part of these requirements. Freehold and leasehold property management companies are responsible for ensuring compliance and may be held liable where properties fall short in respect of health and safety legislation
Property health and safety requirements in leasehold blocks of flats must be prioritised ensuring CDM building Health &Safety compliance. and undertaking HSE fire risk assessments Aside from the obvious health & safety and fire risks dangers, , failure to comply with the law is a criminal offence and carries hefty penalties for those in breach.
Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005
These fire safety rules affect all non-domestic premises in England and Wales came into force on 1 October 2006, in accordance with the ‘Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005? (S.I. 2005/1541, ISBN 0110729455),
This health and safety fire legislation :
– Emphasises preventing fires and reducing risk
– Makes it your responsibility to ensure the safety of everyone who uses your premises and all those in the immediate vicinity
– Does away with the need for fire certificates
– Fire risk assessments are now a requirement
– Fire risk assessments or FRA’s should cover the common areas within any block of flats and include the external areas and grounds forming the freehold of the property
Further details are accessible on the following link https://www.local.gov.uk/sites/default/files/documents/fire-safety-purpose-built-04b.pdf
Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2002
Under the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2002 employers, the self-employed and those in control of premises all have a duty to prevent exposure to asbestos. Where this is not reasonably practicable, then they must make sure this it is kept as low as reasonably practicable, and in any case below the specific control limit.Persons who own or who are responsible for premises must have identified where if any, the asbestos is located in the premises they are responsible for and must have recorded its locations and drawn up a strategy or Action Plan for dealing with it. In many cases, the ‘dutyholder’ is the person or organisation that has clear responsibility for the maintenance or repair of non-domestic premises through an explicit agreement such as a tenancy agreement or contract.The duty to manage covers all non-domestic premises. Such premises include all industrial, commercial or public buildings such as factories, warehouses, offices, shops, hospitals and schools.Non-domestic premises also include those ‘common’ areas of certain domestic premises: purpose-built flats or houses converted into flats. The common areas of such domestic premises might include foyers, corridors, lifts and lift-shafts, staircases, roof spaces, gardens, yards, outhouses and garages but would not include the flat itself. Such common areas would not include rooms within a private residence that are shared by more than one household such as bathrooms, kitchens etc in shared houses and communal dining rooms and lounges in sheltered accommodation.
Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM 2015)
CDM applies to health and safety management responsibilities for construction works but does CDM apply to residential property management services ?
Subject to a few limited exceptions, the CDM Regulations apply to all construction works however they do not apply to a domestic client. You may be forgiven for thinking that CDM 2015 does not therefore apply to property management services where a freeholder or a property leasehold or freehold management company is the client and is carrying out major works to a block of flats or apartments.
In practice however the freehold or leasehold property management company or landlord client is not treated as a domestic client for the purposes of CDM. Clients carrying out major works programmes on blocks of flats or apartments are therefore subject to compliance procedures.It is important to note that even where a domestic client is not subject to the Regulations, it is only the client who is exempt. Everyone else on the project must still comply with CDM.
There are many aspects to CDM which covers not only the construction works themselves but also the design and management of the proposed works. Any contractor employed by a property block management agent or company must demonstrate health and safety competence and should provide risk assessments and method statements clarifying its proposed working practises, identifying the risks involved and how it intends to manage them.
For larger works, defined as either having a duration of 30 days or more and employing more than 20 workers on the project at any one time, or exceeding 500 person days of work, then all of the CDM Regulations are applicable. Such works must be notified to the HSE and clients must appoint certain key parties including a CDM Principal Contractor and for works involving more than one contractor, a Principal Designer.