Author: Louise

Join us at our Asbestos & Fire – Meet the Team FREE event in Glasgow

 

Are you a social landlord based in Scotland?

Do you have questions around your responsibilities for asbestos and for fire?

Would you like to find out more about KPIs for resident safety?

If so, then we’d love to welcome you at our FREE event taking place on Wednesday 3rd August at The Merchants House of Glasgow!

The event will provide the opportunity to network with colleagues and other organisations, meet the HHSC team, attend our asbestos and fire presentations, and be introduced to our invaluable ‘Compliance Scorecard’.

Presentations on the day will include:

  • Fire safety legislation in Scotland – social housing, what do I need to know?
  • Asbestos management plans – what should be included?
  • The importance of KPIs and accurate reporting – introduction to the HHSC Compliance KPI Scorecard.

There will also be plenty of time for Q&A and networking.

Interested?

Although the event is free to attend, we do ask that you let us know you are planning to attend via the booking link which can be found here (this will enable us to arrange appropriate catering).

Likewise if you book a place and find you can no longer attend please do let us know as places are very limited and we already have a number of people signed up.

Our chosen venue (The Merchants House of Glasgow) is a charity, and by holding our meeting here we are directly supporting charities in the West of Scotland. You can find out more about the venue here.

News: HSE releases annual workplace fatality figures for 2021/22

On Wednesday 6 July, the HSE released data which shows that 123 workers were killed in work-related accidents in Great Britain in the last year.

The annual data release covers the period from April 2021 to March 2022, during which time most pandemic restrictions were lifted and the economy began returning to normal.

The 123 worker deaths in 2021/22 is lower than the previous year, though it is in line with pre-pandemic figures. There has been a long-term downward trend in the rate of fatal injuries to workers, though in the years prior to the coronavirus pandemic the rate was broadly flat.

The three most common causes of fatal injuries continue to be:

  • Falling from height (29)
  • Being struck by a moving vehicle (23)
  • Being struck by a moving object (18).  

A further 80 members of the public were killed following a work-related accident in 2021/22. This is an increase on the previous year but below the pre-pandemic level. This is likely to reflect the various COVID-19 restrictions in place.

The release of the annual figures coincides with the 50th anniversary this month of the publication of the Robens report – the landmark report led to the Health and Safety at Work Act in 1974 – which ultimately led to the HSE being set up the following year.

View all statistics and download the full report here.

Preparing for changes to how cladding is regulated in Scotland

Following the Grenfell Tower disaster, we have seen changes to how cladding is regulated in Scotland. The most recent change comes into force on 1 June 2022 in terms of the Building (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2022 (the 2022 regulations) – introducing a ban on the use of combustible cladding on buildings of 11 metres or more in height. The key changes are as follows:

1. Previously developers could use combustible cladding on high-rise buildings provided that they pass a large-scale fire assessment. The regulations now categorically ban any combustible cladding.

2. The combustible cladding ban will apply to all buildings of 11 metres or more in height and which fall into one of the following categories:

  • residential dwellings – including a sheltered housing complex or a shared multi-occupancy residential building
  • buildings used as a place of assembly
  • a place of entertainment or recreation
  • hospitals or residential care building

3. The legislation is retrospective and so will also apply to incompliant cladding on buildings constructed prior to 1 June 2022.

As a result, current owners of buildings that were originally constructed in full compliance with buildings regulations at the relevant time may now find themselves in breach of the new regulations overnight.

As the 2022 regulations apply retrospectively, in many  cases, affected buildings will be fully occupied as businesses and homes, and uildings to which works are required will frequently adjoin other buildings in third party ownership.

While the spotlight has been on residential blocks of flats in the traditional sense, the impact of the new regulations is much wider reaching and extends to living sector developments that also exist as commercial investments, such as student accommodation, and some purely commercial developments that fall into the recreation and entertainment categories e.g. cinemas.

Disclaimer

This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given.

© Shoosmiths LLP 2022

A Pathway to PEEPs in Residential Buildings

On 7th April, our fire safety associate, Tony Bolder, delivered a webinar to an audience of Fireco; Tony talks about the Equality Act 2010 and its implications as well as the duty of care and the ‘neighbour principle’ in case law before moving on to provide an understanding of the person centred risk assessment (PCRA) and its application with new guidance and expectations and what the connection between PCRA and PEEPs is.

We have received some really great feedback about the session, so if you’d like to watch it back, you can do so here:

Asbestos removal company fined and two of its employees jailed for failing to protect workers

This is the latest news headline from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following an investigation by them found irregularities in the asbestos surveys and clearance certificates, with some of them found to be fraudulent.

So what happened?

The HSE’s prosecution gives minimal details of the actual breach but it seems that Ensure Asbestos Management Ltd had been appointed to carry out a major refurbishment of a former Plymouth Department Store. The company had been contracted to carry out an asbestos survey, remove all identified asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) from the building and then carry out the initial strip-out of the building before it was refurbished. However, the company was found to have deliberately cut corners in managing the danger of asbestos exposure putting workers at risk.

It appears that the Ensure was carrying out the removal works on behalf of the client and were found to be falsifying documentation such as clearance certification which in itself is indicative that whatever work they were doing would have fallen within the confines of licensed work (otherwise there would not be a clearance certificate necessarily provided).

It appears Ensure did not (and does not) hold a current valid asbestos removal license from the HSE although they did hold one for a year in Jan 2016- Jan 2017, which is interesting given that the offence detailed above occurred in Feb 2017.

The fact that the prosecution includes the statement that there were ‘irregularities in the surveys’ suggests that the same organisation who were removing the asbestos were also the ones who initially located it which is generally not good practice.

Fines & Prosecution

Ensure Asbestos Management Limited pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 was fined £100,000. The Director of Ensure Asbestos Management pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. He has been sentenced to 10 months in prison and has been disqualified from being a director for five years.

The Contracts Manager at Ensure Asbestos Management pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 2(1), 3(1) and 33(1)(m) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and has been sentenced to 15 months in prison and disqualified from being a director for 10 years.

Matt, our asbestos specialist says….

‘We would always advise our clients to ensure separation between survey and removal contractors and we strongly advocate that our clients appoint their own analytical provision to ensure that they have an awareness of what is happening on their site during asbestos remediation works.

The problem is, as it has always been, that some clients place huge faith in their appointed contractors to the point that their own internal understanding falls by the wayside.  Whilst we would say that the majority of contractors who are appointed, do strive for high standards of work there are always those who seek to profit from a lack of understanding’.

For further information regarding our training courses including our ‘exclusive’ BOHS endorsed training relating to asbestos removal projects, please contact us.

Record fine for fire safety breaches; the shape of things to come?

Private healthcare provider Bupa has been ordered to pay a purported record £1.04 million penalty (fine and costs combined) after admitting fire safety failings.

London Fire Brigade, prosecuting, said it was the “highest ever fine for fire safety breaches in the UK, [highlighting] the seriousness of Bupa’s failure to protect a vulnerable resident in its care.”

The care home environment presents unique challenges, and is one in which the consequences of getting fire safety wrong are potentially catastrophic. Even in the absence of significant human cost, the financial costs associated with a breach of regulations can have a major impact on businesses. The reputational cost might be more serious still. In this article, Shoosmiths consider the potential costs of failing to discharge fire safety duties; both within the care sector and beyond. You can read the full article here.

Technical bulletin from the FIA: ‘The Status of PAS 79-2 & LGA Fire Safety in Purpose-built Blocks of Flats Guide’

PAS79-2

PAS79-2 was removed from sale on the BSI website pending conversion of the PAS into a full British Standard. As an interim measure, BSI have made the original PAS 79-2 available for download, free of charge, from the BSI website. However, all references to disabled people have been redacted from the document, including advice regarding the need to provide disabled people with a facility to discuss their evacuation in the event of fire.

Fire Safety in Purpose-built Blocks of Flats Guide

The Guide, originally published in 2011 is now hosted on the Home Office section of the Government website with three paragraphs dealing with evacuation of vulnerable people having been redacted, pending analysis of responses to the government consultation on PEEPS. FIA advise members to continue to use this Guide and concur with the IFSM as to the value of its content to all those involved with fire safety in purpose-built blocks of flats. Again, members should use their judgement to ensure that fire safety for disabled people is adequately addressed.

The technical bulletin has been produced by FIA to assist those who may experience confusion with regards to these two useful documents. For avoidance of doubt, the FIA strongly support the use of the downloadable version of PAS 79-2 for guidance and recommendations on carrying out fire risk assessments for housing premises and the Fire safety in purpose-built blocks of flats guide. With regard to disabled evacuation, given that all guidance on this matter has been redacted from documents, it will be for fire risk assessors to use their own judgement in respect of this matter.

Full information and advice from the FIA is in this document.