Category: Latest News

Regulator of Social Housing – Coronavirus operational response survey results – April 2020 data

Coronavirus has profoundly affected the whole of the country and we know that registered providers of social housing have been working hard to continue to deliver important services to keep tenants safe whilst also protecting their staff.

The Regulator of Social Housing has introduced a temporary monthly survey covering key areas on tenant safety; this gives up-to-date information about how providers are coping with some of the current challenges they face. Private registered providers with 1,000 or more homes, local authority social landlords and those providers with fewer than 1,000 homes which have a high proportion of supported accommodation were asked to respond to the first survey; the response rate was good at 93%.

The sector is generally reporting that despite the impact of coronavirus it is still managing to maintain adequate levels of service delivery in the areas surveyed.

There are common themes to the issues facing many providers, including access to properties, concerns about the availability of PPE, the robustness of the supply chain, and risks to safe staffing levels in accommodation with care and support services. A handful of providers have reported experiencing specific challenges in some areas. Most have found their own solutions, and in general, providers are reporting that, whilst emergency repairs and critical safety checks are being carried out, backlogs of routine repairs and less critical safety checks are building up.

The survey will be reported for May 2020 with the results expected shortly after.

You can download the first short report HERE

Asbestos – HSE Prosecutions for failings…..

The importance of understanding your responsibilities for the management of asbestos… 

There have been two press releases this week from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) with regards to asbestos and a failure to manage its’ presence….

In the first case, Newnham College has been fined for failings that exposed employees and subcontractors to asbestos during refurbishment of a flat owned by the college.

Cambridge Magistrates’ Court heard that in March 2018, employees of Newnham College and subcontractors were carrying out a refurbishment of a flat on Grange Road, Cambridge when asbestos insulation debris was discovered in the floor voids after work had been carried out in them. No asbestos refurbishment survey was carried out prior to insulation debris being found. One employee, who contaminated his gloves and clothing with loose asbestos debris, did not have asbestos awareness training and spread asbestos from his clothing outside the flat.

An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found that there was inadequate planning and management of the refurbishment work of a flat on Grange Road, Cambridge when asbestos insulation debris was discovered in the floor voids after work had been carried out in them.

The college pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 5 and 16 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. It has been fined £12,000 and ordered to pay costs of £4,450.28.

In the second case, a property owner and his building contractors were both been sentenced after a refurbishment project of an old hotel was found to contain asbestos containing materials (ACMs) on site while work was still taking place. The hotel had been left derelict for several years, allowing it to be subject to vandalism and squatting and had been soft-stripped by its owner. Asbestos surveys identified the presence of ACMs, but these were not managed appropriately nor removed prior to the work. 

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) identified that the former hotel was being refurbished and partially demolished whilst ACMs remained in-situ. Some of these ACMs were licensable products (e.g. asbestos insulating board which contains amosite). Due to the extent of the spread of asbestos dust and debris throughout the building and the lack of adequate control measures, workers and visitors to the properties were at risk of exposure to asbestos fibres.

The building contractors pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and were fined £22,000 and ordered to pay costs of £5,000 and the property owner pleaded guilty to breaching S3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and has been ordered to carry out 120 hours unpaid work and ordered to pay costs of £7,500.

You can read both of the prosecution details in full on the HSE website here

 

Wales bans the use of combustible cladding on high rise buildings from January 2020

The use of combustible cladding on the external walls of high rise buildings in Wales will be banned from 13 January 2020, Housing Minister Julie James has announced.

Following the Grenfell Tower fire in London in June 2017, Dame Judith Hackitt’s independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, published in May 2018, made recommendations for significant changes in the treatment of high risk residential buildings of 10 storeys or more from their construction through to occupation.

As an immediate response to the report, Ministers made a commitment the Welsh Government would move to ban the use of combustible materials in cladding systems on high-rise residential buildings in Wales (18m or more). The Minister has now approved the Regulations that will put a ban in place.

The ban will apply to combustible cladding on all new residential buildings (flats, student accommodation and care homes) and hospitals over 18m in height. The ban covers the entire height of the building, and will apply to the complete wall assembly and certain attachments to the external wall, including balconies and solar panels.

The ban will also apply to existing buildings where relevant building work is being carried out which falls within the scope of the Building Regulations (unless the building works have started on-site or an initial notice, building notice or full plans have been deposited and work has started on site within a period of 8 weeks).

You can read the press release, along with comments from the Housing Minister, here

Hotpoint & Indesit Washing Machines Recall…

Hotpoint and Indesit Washing Machines Recall

Whirlpool are proactively recalling certain models of washing machines manufactured under the Hotpoint and Indesit brands between 2014 and 2018.

This is due to a defective door catch on certain models, which can overheat during use, giving a risk of fire.

You can find out more on the Electrical Safety First website which also provides a link to the Whirlpool website

Fire safety guidance for high-rise homes – Scotland

Advice for residents and those responsible for fire safety.

Residents in high-rise properties are being given leaflets outlining how to prevent fires in the home and what to do if one starts in their building. The advice, produced by the Scottish Government and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, is being delivered to high-rise homes from December and will also be available in libraries and community centres in all 15 local authorities with the properties.

The fire safety leaflet can be found here

Guidance is also being published for those responsible for fire safety in high-rise buildings, including councils, housing associations, owners and private landlords.

It is important that those responsible for fire safety in high-rise buildings also have the most relevant, up-to-date information. That is why a single source of guidance covering general fire safety and fire risk assessments is being published.

Practical fire safety guidance for existing high rise domestic buildings can be found here

Construction Body launches Work at Height guide

CONIAC resource provides key messages to all involved in work at height.

Leading construction industry body CONIAC (the Construction Industry Advisory Council) has produced a guide entitled ‘Safety Steps’, designed to help anyone looking to ensure safe work at height.

‘Safety Steps’ is aimed primarily at five key work at height audiences: designers, clients, managers (those who manage work at height), supervisors and operatives.

The document has been produced by the ‘Managing Risk Well’ Group, a leading safety group within CONIAC. Safety Steps can be used freely – in whole or part – to help produce any type of output for the five target audiences shown above, such as:

. Training materials
. Flow charts/infographics
. Toolbox talks/checklists
. Poster/sticker campaigns
. Social media campaigns
. Rules and guidelines
. Articles

Paul Reeve CFIOSH, chair of the sub-group that produced ‘Safety Steps’, commented:

“’Safety Steps’ provides the essential safety messages for the five key groups involved in work at height in construction and maintenance. It’s designed as an ‘enabling’ guide – meaning it can help anyone to produce, or just check, virtually any type of output that’s looking to support safe work at height”.

‘Safety Steps’ covers general, rather than task-specific, messages (e.g. using scaffolding, mobile work platforms or working on roofs). However, its essential messages underpin any type of work at height activity.

To access the free Safety Steps guide please click here

 

HSE releases annual injury and ill-health statistics

The number of injuries and incidents of ill-health in workplaces across Great Britain is still too high, new statistics show. The annual report by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) includes statistics for work-related ill health, workplace injuries, working days lost, enforcement action taken, and the associated costs to Great Britain.

In the new statistics, figures show that around 581,000 workers sustained non-fatal injuries in 2018/2019, with 1.4 million workers suffering from work-related ill-health. The statistics, compiled from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) and other sources, illustrate that in Great Britain in the 2018/2019 period there were;

 

The estimated economic cost to Great Britain totalled £15 billion in 2017/2018.

There have been no significant changes to industries in which there is a higher risk of sustaining an injury while at work, with construction and agriculture still amongst the high-risk sectors.

You can download the summary statistics report here

 

Scottish Housing Regulator highlights the importance of landlords ensuring tenant and resident safety

The Scottish Housing Regulator has written to all social landlords to highlight the importance of meeting their duties to keep tenants and residents safe. The Regulator’s letter comes after it identified that some of the registered social landlords it had been engaging with had been unable to show they met the required duties. This includes those around the management of asbestos and electrical safety.

It also found that the governing bodies of these landlords did not seek or get the necessary assurance that their organisation was meeting its legal duties on tenant and resident safety.

The Regulator requires landlords to assure themselves that they are complying with all relevant duties around the safety of tenants’ homes.

Ian Brennan, Director of Regulation, said:
‘Social landlords must ensure they meet all duties on tenant and resident safety and that they obtain the necessary assurances about their compliance. They must ensure that they are taking prompt action to address any non-compliance’.

You can access copies of the letters on the Scottish Housing Regulators site here

The Regulator in England has been reminding Social Landlords of this requirement for many years; in fact our Director, Vicki, has worked with many of them over a number of years to carry out compliance audits and support them in providing assurance, over and above that of the ‘internal audit’ function… there are many examples of failings and the lessons that can be learned from the English Sector and she would be pleased to speak with organisation in Scotland to offer advice and support.

Regulator of Social Housing – Sector Risk Profile 2019 – Health & Safety

The Regulator of Social Housing’s Sector risk profile 2019 has been published and highlights that strategic and operational risks facing the social housing sector are on the rise.

This is the seventh year of the annual publication, which is designed to help registered providers, board members and others to understand the operating environment and to think strategically about how their organisation can manage its risks.

The first bullet point of the most significant risks that boards must manage and mitigate, as provided by the Regulator is –  health and safety compliance; all providers have an obligation to act to ensure the homes they provide are safe for tenants and they must also fulfil their legal duty of care to their staff.

Providers must understand and fully meet all their existing obligations in relation to tenants’ health and safety, as well as preparing for increased expectations and changing requirements, particularly for high rise buildings.

The Regulator of Social Housing expects boards to have strong and appropriate oversight of decisions around stock quality and health and safety compliance. The safety of all tenants, especially the most vulnerable, should be of primary importance for all providers.

The Regulator also expects boards to comply with all health and safety statutory requirements; this includes having up-to-date and relevant policies in place that are regularly managed and monitored by the board, effective compliance reporting and good quality data.

3 KEY POINTS, amongst others included in the publication, that are absolutely paramount to me and that I’d like to highlight are;

1.  Failure to comply with all relevant statutory health and safety requirements puts tenants’ lives at risk. All providers have an obligation to act to ensure the homes they provide are safe. Providers must also fulfil their legal duty of care to their staff and seek to understand their tenants’ needs.

2. The Regulators recently published Consumer regulation review reiterates the importance for providers to have systems in place to provide assurance to the board that the consumer standards (which apply to both private registered providers and local authorities) are being met. Providers are expected to meet a range of statutory health and safety obligations including gas, electrical and fire safety as well as the management of asbestos, legionella and lifts. Increasingly, there is recognition that ensuring tenants’ homes are safe goes beyond complying with specific pieces of legislation. It is important for providers to engage with tenants to understand their circumstances and their needs, as well as the stock they are responsible for, regardless of whether they are leased or managed properties.

3. Providers who do not have good quality data on the condition and compliance position of their stock risk failure to comply with statutory requirements and placing their tenants in danger. The regulator’s expectation is that all providers will have assurance on the quality and integrity of their stock data as part of its requirements on asset and liability records.

You download the full publication here

Proud to support Fire Door Safety Week – 23-29 September 2019

Housing H&S Compliance UK Ltd are supporting  Fire Door Safety Week

Fire doors are often the first line of defence in a fire. However, their correct specification, maintenance and management is still not fully understood by those who are responsible for them. Even after the Grenfell tragedy, fire doors remain a significant area of neglect, being often the first thing to be downgraded and mismanaged throughout their service life.

Fire Door Safety Week is committed to its objectives, which include:
– Raising awareness of the critical role of fire doors, drawing attention to specific issues such as poor installation and maintenance;
– Engaging and educating people, helping the whole building industry and every property owner to understand the correct specification, supply, installation, operation, inspection and maintenance of fire doors;
– Encouraging building owners and users to check the operation and condition of their fire doors and to report those that aren’t satisfactory

Pop over to the official website where you can download posters checklists and a range of items from their toolkit and find out more about the campaign – you can click here

Don’t forget we’re also an IFSM Accredited Centre offering 1/2 theory or full day theory & practical ‘Fire Doors & Your Responsibilities’ training sessions – contact us for more info!!