HQN Health and Safety Network News
The Health and Safety Network (SAFETYnet) routinely looks over the biggest and most relevant news stories, reports and publications of the past few days for members, while providing relevant analysis and comment.
For more expert analysis, briefings and best practice for those involved in the safety of residents and employees, be sure to join SAFETYnet. You can find out more here.
Week commencing 8 April 2019
Revised British Standard BS 7974 on fire safety engineering published by BSI
The original British Standard for fire safety engineering, BS 7974, was published in 2001 and has been supplemented by a series of later guidance documents
Since 2001, there have been major changes within the fire and construction industry involving working practices and the regulatory framework, as well as new research, all of which prompted an update to the existing guidance framework. As a result, BSI has significantly revised the 2001 edition of BS 7974 and has published a new version entitled BS 7974:2019 – Application of Fire Safety Engineering Principles to the Design of Buildings.
What is this standard about?
This is the “go-to” document for fire safety engineering (FSE) in the UK. It provides a framework for an engineering approach to the fire safety of buildings, giving recommendations and guidance on applying scientific and engineering principles to the protection of people, property and the environment from fire. It applies to the design of new buildings and the appraisal of existing buildings.
Why should you use this standard?
The general approach to fire safety engineering (FSE) described in the standard can be applied to all types and uses of buildings or to facilities such as tunnels and process plants. When correctly implemented, its recommendations will help preserve life in an emergency situation and ensure the protection of buildings themselves. The standard can be applied to new or to existing buildings to show that regulatory requirements can be met.
What’s changed since the last update?
This is the first revision of the standard since being originally published in 2001.
It introduces the following principal changes:
- Recommendations previously contained in PD 7974-0:2002 and PD 7974-8:2012 have now been incorporated to reduce repetition and improve usability
- A greater emphasis is put on the competence of the fire engineer
- Additional recommendations are included on the quality assurance and verification of fire engineering reports.
Week commencing 1 April 2019
Repair and maintenance company fined after worker falls from height
RTF Repairs Limited of King Street, Norwich have been fines £150,000 and ordered to pay legal costs, after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 4 (1) of Work at Height Regulations 2005, after a roofer fell, sustaining contusion and bruising to his head, as well as hearing loss. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the assessment prior to the arrival of the roofers was inadequate.
Worker seriously burnt after cable strike
AR Signs Limited, has been sentenced for safety breaches after a worker suffered multiple serious burn injuries, after he hit a mains electricity cable whilst using a breaker tool to dig a post hole, in South Yorkshire.
An investigation by the HSE found that no cable diagram or ground scanner was used to determine the presence of the mains cable, and no training had been given in the use of the breaker tool.
Builder sentenced after putting workers at risk with unsafe work practices
A Salford building contractor has been sentenced after exposing workers to the danger of falls from height and exposure to silica dust whilst carrying out repointing work in Altrincham.
After receiving information from the public, the HSE found that Kenneth Moore, trading as K&M Pointing, had chosen not to provide the correct scaffolding or means of dust capture in order to save money. Mr Morris had aslo failed to insure his employees against injury or ill health sustained during the course of their work.
Week commencing 18 March 2019
Guide for landlords: Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018
The Act came into force on 20 March 2019. It is designed to ensure that all rented accommodation is fit for human habitation and to strengthen tenants’ means of redress against the minority of landlords who do not fulfil their legal obligations to keep their properties safe.
Residents and landlords to team up to better communicate building safety issues
A new group will see eight social landlords and their respective residents come together to ensure residents are given a stronger voice in communicating approaches to building safety within social housing.
Councils’ powers to remove Grenfell-style cladding ‘useless’
New powers for councils to step in and fix privately owned towers covered with dangerous Grenfell-style cladding are proving largely useless, leaving tens of thousands of leaseholders living in fear and facing mounting multimillion-pound bills, the Guardian has learned.
New homes built by Persimmon missing fire safety barriers
Housebuilder Persimmon Homes found it was missing from some properties on estates in south-west England. It has written to more than 1,000 people to say their homes need to be checked. One resident in Truro, Cornwall, said his house “is potentially a massive fire risk”.
5.8m tenants reported to experience damp in the home
Research released today by Rentokil Property Care has found that 5.8m British renters have experienced damp and condensation issues, as well as black spots on the walls of their homes.
Week commencing 11 March 2019
Housing Health and Safety Rating System: assessment of high-rise residential buildings with cladding systems
An operating guidance addendum on the assessment of high-rise residential buildings with cladding systems has been issued by the government.
The housing health and safety rating system (HHSRS) is a risk-based assessment evaluation tool to help local authorities identify and protect against potential risks and hazards to health and safety from any deficiencies identified in residential premises.
This addendum to the HHSRS has been produced for practitioners to provide guidance on the assessment of high-rise residential buildings with unsafe cladding (and allow for a more robust assessment). It supplements the hazard profile for fire as given in the HHSRS operating guidance (see profile 24, pages 150 to 155) and should be read and used in conjunction with that operating guidance.
Guide for landlords: Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018
This document provides guidance and advice to landlords of domestic rented properties about the minimum standards required to let domestic property under the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 (‘the Act’). The Act comes into force on 20 March 2019 and it is designed to ensure that all rented accommodation is fit for human habitation and to strengthen tenants’ means of redress against the minority of landlords who do not fulfil their legal obligations to keep their properties safe.
There are no new obligations for landlords under this Act; the legislation requires landlords to ensure that they are meeting their existing responsibilities with regards to property standards and safety.
Under the Act, the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 is amended to require all landlords (private and social) to ensure that their properties, including any common parts of the building, are fit for human habitation at the beginning of the tenancy and throughout. The Act states that there is an implied agreement between the tenant and landlord at the beginning of the tenancy that the property will be fit for human habitation.
This Act provides an additional means for tenants to seek redress by giving them the power to hold their landlord to account without having to rely on their local authority to do so.
Hampstead scaffold collapse investigated
Strong winds brought down an estimated 200 square metres of scaffolding off a building in Hampstead, North London. The Health & Safety Executive is investigating why it failed to withstand the wind.
Week commencing 4 March 2019
NHBC signed off more than 50 towers with Grenfell-style cladding systems, investigation reveals
Data gathered under Freedom of Information laws from 33 local authorities which house 172 towers with dangerous aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding – like that used on Grenfell – show 52 were given a ‘completion certificate’ by the NHBC.
Read more… (registration required)
BREXIT and Health & Safety
Health and safety protections, and your duties to protect the health and safety of people, will not change with Brexit. The HSE have made minor amendments to regulations to remove EU references but legal requirements, and the protections these provide, will be the same as they are now.
After Brexit you should continue to manage your business and employees in a proportionate way to reduce risk and to protect people and the environment.
Your obligations to protect people’s health and safety will not change with Brexit.
‘No Deal’ guidance
The HSE have produced guidance to help you prepare in the event the UK leaves the EU without a deal (and therefore without an implementation period):
- Biocides Authorisation of biocidal substances and products
- CLP Classification, labelling and packaging of substances and chemicals
- PIC Export and import of hazardous chemicals from and into Europe
- PPP Pesticides or Plant Protection Products
- REACH Registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals.
‘No-deal’ guidance on GOV.UK
You can check what changes might affect you by reading the government’s guidance on helping you to prepare your business for EU Exit.
Week commencing 25 February 2019
Basildon Borough Council has today been sentenced after a brick boundary wall it part-owned collapsed and seriously injured a six-year-old girl.
Basildon Crown Court heard how, on 14 August 2016, a wall spanning the back of two houses in Fleetway, Vange collapsed onto the girl during a family barbecue. She was placed in an induced coma after sustaining serious and life-threatening injuries. She was in intensive care for 7 days and in hospital for 10 days in total. She has made a good recovery but still suffers some physical and emotional problems.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found Basildon Borough Council failed to take any action after receiving concerns about the wall’s condition from private tenants, two years prior to the incident. Wider concerns about the poor condition of brick walls in the vicinity, including council-owned walls, were not passed to building control or the Council’s inspections teams. Basildon Borough Council failed to implement a system of intelligence-led inspection, maintenance and repair, to adequately identify and remedy the risks of collapses to boundary walls, both owned solely by the Council, or jointly with private residents
Read the full HSE report here.
Construction firms fined after worker suffers fatal fall
Oliver Connell and Son Ltd and Rydon Construction Ltd have been fined after a worker fell to his death when a temporary platform collapsed.
Southwark Crown Court heard how, on 24 July 2015, Mr Vasile Nichitut was working on the fifth floor of the construction site at the Green Man Lane Estate, when he walked onto a temporary platform covering a vertical shaft, which collapsed beneath him. He fell approximately 14 metres and died as a result of his injuries.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Oliver Connell and Son Ltd had failed to ensure that work at height was properly planned, appropriately supervised and carried out in a safe and practicable manner. Specifically, there was no temporary works design for the platform and the company’s system for installing and inspecting it was inadequate.
Rydon Construction Ltd failed to plan, manage and monitor the work involving the temporary platform to ensure that, construction work is carried out without risks to health or safety. They failed to identify the lack of design drawings and carry out suitable checks on the platform.
Read the full HSE report here.
Report to tackle London’s damp and mouldy homes published
A new report published by the London Assembly Environment Committee highlights the issue of residents in London struggling with cold, damp and mouldy homes.
The report, titled Keeping Out the Chill: Fixing London’s Cold, Damp and Mouldy Homes’, attributes factors such as low-quality housing, overcrowding and fuel poverty along with energy saving retrofit measures without proper ventilation to ‘only making the problem worse’.
Download the full report here.