News & Blogs

Announcement: IOSH Managing Safely in Social Housing

We are absolutely delighted to announce that, after several months of hard work, we have had our IOSH Managing Safely in Social Housing course approved. The three-day course has been developed, and will be delivered, by social housing professionals and can be run virtually or face-to-face.

What makes the course specifically for the social housing sector?

In designing this training we have taken the standard IOSH Managing Safely course and tailored each module to be specifically aimed at managers within social housing.

We’ve gone through the hazards, case studies and information within the course and made them relevant to the specific nature of the social housing sector.

The course has then gone through IOSH’s rigorous approval process to ensure it meets their high standards.


We have several health and safety specialists who are approved to deliver the course; all are experienced trainers who have worked in the social housing sector for many years:

How can I find out more or book a course?

If you have any queries about the course or would like to book, please email or call Vicki on 07974 578103 . We’d love to hear from you.

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

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


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.

Council Fined for Hand Arm Vibration (HAVs) Failings

Dacorum Borough Council has been fined for exposing seven grounds maintenance workers to Hand Arm Vibration (HAVS), caused by excessive use of power tools. Dacorum Borough Council reported seven cases of HAVS between May 2015 and June 2016. The affected employees were all part of its grounds maintenance and street care team, looking after the public spaces in Hertfordshire

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the council had neither adequately planned its working methods nor trained or informed employees on the risks to their health.

Furthermore, Dacorum Borough Council did not limit the duration or magnitude of exposure to vibration and failed to put in place suitable health surveillance to identify problems at any early stage.

Dacorum Borough Council pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 5 of the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005 and have been fined £100,000 and ordered to pay costs of £28,672.62.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Rubeena Surnam said “This was a case of the council failing to identify the risk from hand arm vibration which is a recognised health risk with potentially disabling consequences. Unless vibration is identified and properly assessed, an employer won’t know the level of risk and whether action is needed to protect workers.”

Read the full story from the HSE here

There is a wealth of information for employers here, including how to get started with vibration risk assessment.

Vicki shortlisted for Women in Housing award…

Our Director, Vicki Cutler, has been shortlisted as a finalist for Consultant of the Year in the Women in Housing Awards.

The Women in Housing Awards recognise and celebrate the achievements of outstanding women working in housing. We all know that the work of housing organisations is crucial, but so too is the work of the many consultants that support their work.

This award recognises someone who works as a consultant and makes a crucial contribution in housing.

Vicki said ‘I’m absolutely delighted to have been shortlisted as a finalist for Consultant of the Year at the Women in Housing Awards, the recognition of consultants and their work with organisations is really welcome. I work with so many organisations now in respect of Health, Safety & Compliance, their focus to improve health and safety, particularly in the key areas of landlord safety, shows just how important it is to ensure the safety of their own staff and the tenants who live in their properties’

She will be off to the awards ceremony in October .. Good Luck Vicki and congratulations.



Roundup of Advice from MCHLG

There has been considerable activity with ongoing advice from MHCLG.

This has included further advice;

For maintaining a building with High Pressure Laminate (HPL) cladding systems over 18 metres tall; Advice Note 22 – Use of High Pressure Laminate Panels in external wall systems should be read in conjunction with advice note 14: external wall systems that do not incorporate ACM.

You can find the information you need here

A report on 25 different timber fire doors that passed the 30-minute standard on both sides when manufactured to specification and installed correctly and had the required documentation and certification was released.

The test data is provided to inform building owners building risk assessments and plans for fitting and repair or replacement of fire doors. Details within the note provide important context for the results supplied which represent only a sample of the market and are only relevant for the specific model of door set tested from the manufacturer. The note does not make any recommendations for fitting, repair or replacement, which is a matter for individual building owners and their advisers.

You can find the information you need here:

Neil O’Connor (Director, Building Safety Programme) is asking local authorities to collect data on the buildings in their area about external wall systems used on high rise residential buildings.

All of the information you need can be found here

The Fire Protection Association (FPA) has at the request of MHCLG tested a HPL panel system with stone wool insulation, in accordance with British Standard 8414, in a 9-metre high wall rig and a full report is available.

You can access the report here