Health and Safety

Property Health & Safety | CDM Building H&S Compliance | HSE Fire Risk

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

Please click the following link for further information regarding property block managing agents and property management company health & safety responsibilities.

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.