Letter from Melanie Dawes to owners, landlords and managers of private residential blocks about safety checks following the Grenfell Tower fire

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Melanie Dawes, Permanent Secretary at the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG), has written to owners, landlords and managers of private residential blocks about safety checks following the Grenfell Tower fire. The government is making available testing facilities for private owners of residential blocks that have cladding made of aluminium composite material, and the letter explains how to identify this cladding, and access the testing facilities.

The letter, and supporting documents, can be viewed by clicking on the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/safety-checks-on-private-residential-blocks and we have published the contents below. Queries should be directed to PRShousingchecks@communities.gsi.gov.uk, but if you require any general assistance regarding fire safety in blocks of flats, please don’t hesitate to contact us on 07896 016380 or at fiona@eljay.co.uk, and we’ll be happy to help.

Safety checks on private residential blocks

This letter is intended for owners, landlords and managers of private residential blocks in England. Representative bodies for the private residential sector have kindly agreed to disseminate this letter to their members, and we are grateful for their assistance.

Following the horrific fire at Grenfell Tower in North Kensington last week, we want to ensure you are aware of help that is available in checking your buildings.

There has been much public concern and comment about potential flaws in the cladding that was on Grenfell Tower. While the exact reasons for the speed of the spread of fire have yet to be determined, we have concluded that there are additional tests that can be undertaken with regard to the cladding. We have asked local authorities and social housing providers to identify whether any panels used in new build or refurbishment of their own housing stock are a particular type of cladding made of Aluminium Composite Material (ACM). These checks will be relevant to privately owned and managed residential buildings too, so please can you consider carrying out these checks on your buildings.

More details on how to identify this cladding are in Annex A below.  It is important to stress that ACM cladding is not of itself dangerous, but it is important that the right type is used. If you identify that cladding on any of your buildings is made of ACM, then a sample can be tested.

This testing facility is also being made available to blocks that are privately owned, and your local authority may already have been in touch to make you aware of this.  The procedures for taking up this offer of testing, which will be paid for by DCLG, are set out in the annex. We are prioritising buildings over six storeys or 18 metres high.  The offer is for the initial testing only and the cost of any remedial action will be the responsibility of the owner of the building. The information from the checks will be available to DCLG from BRE. Please contact us at PRShousingchecks@communities.gsi.gov.uk if you have any queries.

Where the entire block is not owned and managed by the same party, please ensure that only one sample is provided and that any necessary permissions are obtained for taking and sending off the sample. We would not expect individual leaseholders within a building to send off samples for testing.

As well as this work it is of course important that owners / landlords have robust fire assessments for their properties.

Thank you for your cooperation in this important work.

MELANIE DAWES

Annex A

Protocol for Sampling of Aluminium Composite Material Cladding

Identification of Aluminium Composite Material Cladding

Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) is a type of flat panel that consists of two thin aluminium sheets bonded to a non-aluminium core, typically between 3 and 7mm thick. The panels can have a painted or metallic finish (eg copper or zinc effects). It can be differentiated from solid aluminium sheet by looking at a cut edge whereby the lamination is visible. It may be necessary to cut a hole in a panel if a cut edge is not readily accessible.

On buildings with a floor over 18m above ground level, where ACM panels are identified, it is necessary to establish whether the panels are of a type that complies with the Building Regulations guidance ie the core material should be a material of limited combustibility or Class A2.

Testing of ACM

To allow for the identification of core materials, we are putting in place Government-funded testing capacity that will allow a small sample of the cladding to be tested and its type identified. If you wish to take up this offer, then you will need to submit samples for testing.

Where the surveyor undertaking assessment of a composite panel determines that it is necessary for cladding to be subjected to laboratory screening they should follow this procedure:

  1. Cut out two samples of at least 250x250mm in size from each location sampled. Take photographs as necessary to identify the location of the sample. You should take samples from above and below 18m above ground level as appropriate and check different multiple panels where you have concern that material specification varies.
  1. Using an indelible ink pen, note the building name / number, postcode and a unique identifier (i.e. name of building owner followed by unique sample number e.g. ABC/001) traceable to the specific location within the building of each sample. Add a direct dial telephone or mobile contact number to be used in the event that there are any queries on the sample.
  1. You must make good by closing the hole using a non-combustible sheet such as steel fixed with self-tapping screws or rivets.
  1. Complete the data return form attached to this letter (https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/620798/Data_Return_Form_for_testing_of_ACM_-_private_residential.xlsx) and include a hard copy of it with the sample. You should provide as much information as is readily available, but not if this will delay submission of samples for testing.
  1. Place one of the samples from each location in a padded envelope with a copy of the data return form. Clearly mark the envelope URGENT – CLADDING TEST SAMPLE.
  1. Send the test samples by recorded delivery or courier to:

BRE, Bucknalls Lane, Garston, Watford, Herts, WD25 9XX

For any testing related queries please email material.screening@bre.co.uk

  1. Retain the second sample from each location for your own records or for testing in the event that samples are lost or misplaced in transit

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.

 

HEALTH & SAFETY NEWS UPDATE – 11TH AUGUST 2016

We hope you find our news updates useful. If you know of anyone who may benefit from reading them, please encourage them to register at the bottom-left of our news page (http://www.eljay.co.uk/news/) and we’ll email them a link each time an update is published. If in the unlikely event any difficulties are experienced whilst registering we’ll be more than happy to help and can be contacted on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk

General fire safety in construction – timber-frame firm fined for fire safety and traffic offences

A construction firm has been fined £100,000 for running an unsafe timber-frame construction site.

The HSE launched an investigation last month after making an unannounced visit to the site.

Fifty-four timber-frame houses were under construction, which carry a serious fire risk if not planned or managed properly, as the structures are made from wood. If a fire starts, the speed and intensity of fire spread can be extreme – putting workers and even members of the public at risk of harm.

HSE found that measures to prevent a fire starting and getting out of control had not been properly taken. All the houses were under construction at broadly the same stage with little fire protection, a lack of site management control, insufficient means to detect a fire and raise the alarm, poor control of ignition sources and a general lack of emergency planning. Workers were also at risk of being struck or crushed by construction vehicles on site.

Improvement Notices were served regarding fire and vehicle safety issues and these were complied with after two further inspection visits.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Liam Osborne said: “[the construction firm] had been given plenty of warnings about fire-safety and traffic risks in the recent past, including from HSE.

“Timber-frame houses are perfectly safe once they’re finished and protected, but when under construction they can be very dangerous. Stringent fire-safety standards need to be in place well before the build starts, and then maintained and monitored”.

General fire safety in construction – what you need to do

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO) sets out the law on construction site general fire safety.

The FSO requires that a ‘responsible person’ must carry out, and keep up to date, a risk assessment and implement appropriate measures to minimise the risk to life and property from fire.

The responsible person will usually be the main or principal contractor in control of the site.

You should identify sources of fuel and ignition and establish general fire precautions including, means of escape, warning and fighting fire, based on your fire risk assessment.

In occupied buildings such as offices, make sure the work does not interfere with existing escape routes from the building, or any fire separation, alarms, dry risers, or sprinkler systems.

Key issues are:

  • Risk assessment
  • Means of escape
  • Means of giving warning
  • Means of fighting fire

Construction of timber frame buildings will require significant additional measures – please refer to the specific guidance listed.

What you need to know

Each year there a number of serious fires on construction sites and buildings undergoing refurbishment.

Risk assessment

In most cases, conducting a risk assessment will be a relatively straightforward and simple task that may be carried out by the responsible person, or a person they nominate, such as a consultant.

There are five steps in carrying out a fire risk assessment:

  1. Identify hazards: consider how a fire could start and what could burn;
  2. People at risk: employees, contractors, visitors and anyone who is vulnerable, eg disabled;
  3. Evaluation and action: consider the hazards and people identified in 1 and 2 and act to remove and reduce risk to protect people and premises;
  4. Record, plan and train: keep a record of the risks and action taken. Make a clear plan for fire safety and ensure that people understand what they need to do in the event of a fire; and
  5. Review: your assessment regularly and check it takes account of any changes on site.

Means of escape

Key aspects to providing safe means of escape on construction sites include:

  • Routes: your risk assessment should determine the escape routes required, which must be kept available and unobstructed;
  • Alternatives:well-separated alternative ways to ground level should be provided where possible;
  • Protection: routes can be protected by installing permanent fire separation and fire doors as soon as possible;
  • Assembly: make sure escape routes give access to a safe place where people can assemble and be accounted for. On a small site the pavement outside may be adequate; and
  • Signs: will be needed if people are not familiar with the escape routes. Lighting should be provided for enclosed escape routes and emergency lighting may be required.

Means of giving warning

Set up a system to alert people on site. This may be temporary or permanent mains operated fire alarm (tested regularly), a klaxon, an air horn or a whistle, depending on the size and complexity of the site.

The warning needs to be distinctive, audible above other noise and recognisable by everyone.

Means of fighting fire

Fire extinguishers should be located at identified fire points around the site. The extinguishers should be appropriate to the nature of the potential fire:

  • wood, paper and cloth – water extinguisher;
  • flammable liquids – dry powder or foam extinguisher;
  • electrical – carbon dioxide (C02) extinguisher.

Nominated people should be trained in how to use extinguishers.

For more information, visit the HSE web page: http://www.hse.gov.uk/construction/safetytopics/generalfire.htm or contact us on 07896 016380 or at fiona@eljay.co.uk, and we’ll be happy to help

Contains public sector information published by the Health and Safety Executive and licensed under the Open Government Licence

 

 

HEALTH & SAFETY NEWS UPDATE – 3RD SEPTEMBER 2015

IN THIS UPDATE

Introduction

HSE Refurbishment Inspection Initiative 2015

FLTA Safety Month – Safetember: see danger, speak up!

Licensing of houses in multiple occupation in England: a guide for landlords and managers

Key safety campaigns to be supported at British Safety Council’s annual conference

Introduction

Later this month, the construction industry will be the focus of HSE attention, as inspectors embark on a four week long programme of unannounced visits to sites where refurbishment projects or repairs are underway. We open this week’s update with details of the HSE’s 10th annual refurbishment inspection initiative.

Already underway is the Fork Lift Truck Association’s safety month which runs until 30th September, and during which free resources and guides will be available on the FLTA website. The campaign is now in its eighth year and aims to raise awareness of the dangers involved in fork lift operations throughout the industry and to stress the importance of common sense measures that can make lift trucks safer and more efficient.

Are you a landlord or managing agent/property manager? Do you know what constitutes a House in Multiple Occupation, and that some HMOs are required to be licensed? Read on for more information about your responsibilities, particularly in regard to health and safety.

The safety of cyclists on our roads has been highlighted in the news in recent weeks, and a ban on unsafe lorries has recently come into force in London. Work-related transport is one of the health and safety campaigns the British Safety Council will be focusing on at its conference on 23rd September. Read on to find out which other campaigns will be highlighted at the event.

We hope you find our news updates useful. If you know of anyone who may benefit from reading them, please encourage them to register at the bottom-left of our news page (http://www.eljay.co.uk/news/) and we’ll email them a link each time an update is published. If in the unlikely event any difficulties are experienced whilst registering we’ll be more than happy to help and can be contacted on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk

HSE Refurbishment Inspection Initiative 2015

The HSE’s 10th annual refurbishment inspection initiative is due to take place between 14th September and 9th October 2015. Poor standards and unsafe practices on Britain’s building sites are likely to be targeted during a nationwide drive aimed at reducing ill health, death and injury in the industry.

During the annual initiative, HSE Construction Inspectors carry out unannounced visits to sites where refurbishment projects or repair works are underway, ensuring high-risk activities particularly those affecting the health of workers, are being properly managed.

What the initiative does

The main aims of the initiative are:

  • to achieve an improvement in industry standards, in particular at small sites
  • to increase awareness of HSEs expectations of the industry
  • to demonstrate that HSE will use the enforcement tools at its disposal to prevent immediate risk and bring about sustained improvements

What inspectors look for

During inspections, HSE inspectors consider whether:

  • risks to health from exposure to dust such as silica are being controlled
  • workers are aware of where they may find asbestos, and what to do if they find it
  • other health risks, such as exposure to noise and vibration, manual handling, hazardous substances are being properly managed
  • jobs that involve working at height have been identified and properly planned to ensure that appropriate precautions, such as proper support of structures, are in place
  • equipment is correctly installed / assembled, inspected and maintained and used properly
  • sites are well organised, to avoid trips and falls, walkways and stairs are free from obstructions and welfare facilities are adequate

HSE uses the inspection initiatives to reinforce its message to the construction industry that poor standards are unacceptable and liable to result in HSE taking enforcement action.

Previous campaign results:

More information on the above can be found on the HSE website www.hse.gov.uk or contact us on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk, and we’ll be more than happy to help.

FLTA Safety Month – Safetember: see danger, speak up!

Date and location

1st – 30th September 2015, throughout the month, location the FLTA website (http://fork-truck.org.uk/fork-lift-safety/national-fork-lift-safety-month)

Event overview

National Fork Lift Safety Week was launched by the Fork Lift Truck Association (FLTA) in 2008 to raise awareness of the dangers involved in fork lift operations throughout the industry and to stress the importance of common sense measures that can make lift trucks safer and more efficient.

For 2015, the Association has increased the scope into a month-long campaign throughout September, dubbing the campaign “Safetember”.

Throughout Safetember the FLTA will be making a compendium of free resources and guides available on its website. The Association will also be urging every company that works with lift trucks to genuinely empower workers with the freedom to report bad practice in a blame-free environment.

After all, this freedom is not a luxury, it is a right.

Further information

More information can be found on the FLTA website (http://fork-truck.org.uk/fork-lift-safety/national-fork-lift-safety-month), or by emailing the FLTA secretariat.

Licensing of houses in multiple occupation in England: a guide for landlords and managers

This publication is aimed at landlords and managers who manage a house in multiple occupation (HMO), or if you are not sure whether you manage an HMO. The booklet explains more about HMOs, which HMOs are required to be licensed and what other if any responsibilities there are in relation to the management of HMOs.

Not sure whether you manage an HMO?

The home you manage is a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) if both of the following apply:

  • at least 3 tenants live there, forming more than 1 household
  • tenants share toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities

The home you manage is a large HMO if all of the following apply:

  • it’s at least 3 storeys high
  • at least 5 tenants live there, forming more than 1 household
  • tenants share toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities

A household is either a single person or members of the same family who live together. A family includes people who are:

  • married or living together – including people in same-sex relationships
  • relatives or half-relatives, eg grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings
  • step-parents and step-children

Your safety responsibilities

You must keep the property you manage safe and free from health hazards.

Gas safety

You must:

  • make sure gas equipment you supply is safely installed and maintained by a Gas Safe registered engineer
  • have a registered engineer do an annual gas safety on each appliance and flue
  • give tenants a copy of the gas safety check record before they move in, or within 28 days of the check

Electrical safety

You must make sure:

  • the electrical system is safe, eg sockets and light fittings
  • all appliances you supply are safe, eg cookers and kettles

Fire safety

You must:

  • follow fire safety regulations, eg check tenants have access to escape routes at all times
  • make sure the furniture and furnishings you supply are fire safe
  • provide fire alarms and extinguishers (if the property is a large House in Multiple Occupation (HMO)

Download the publication by clicking on the link: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/15652/HMO_Lic_landlords_guide.pdf or contact us for more information on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk and we’ll be more than happy to help.

Key safety campaigns to be supported at British Safety Council’s annual conference

Health and safety campaigns such as work-related transport, occupational health and young people at work will be highlighted at the British Safety Council annual conference on 23rd September.

Work-related transport

Every year 70 people are killed and 2000 more are seriously injured in incidents involving vehicles at work. Often these incidents occur in a lorry park or yard while goods are being delivered. In many cases it is the driver who is injured.

The HSE recently ran an advertising campaign on radio and press in the North West and Midlands to raise awareness among the people who can make a real difference – depot managers and those who receive or despatch goods.

The concerns of professional drivers, about the dangers of delivery and collection of goods have also been included.

This campaign focused on how depot managers can take small practical steps to make delivery areas safer. Examples include (click on the links for more information):

Key messages

Campaign posters

Campaign radio publicity

To download, right click and select ‘save target as…’

For more advice on transport topics visit the HSE Vehicles at Work website (http://www.hse.gov.uk/workplacetransport/)

Proposal to replace OHSAS 18001 (Occupational Health & Safety Management) with ISO 45001

ISO 45001 on occupational health and safety management system requirements is currently being produced with an intended publication date of October 2016. However, it is expected that the current standard OHSAS 18001 will be valid for some time after this date and therefore companies interested in certifying should still do so, and will benefit from its implementation.

The aim of the new standard is to improve occupational health and safety for all, in developed and developing countries, and at local, national, regional and international levels.

For up to date information about the new standard, follow our health and safety news updates.

Young people at work

When employing a young person under the age of 18, whether for work, work experience, or as an apprentice, employers have the same responsibilities for their health, safety and welfare as they do for other employees.

Guidance on the HSE website (http://www.hse.gov.uk/youngpeople/) will help young people and those employing them understand their responsibilities.

Work experience

Introducing young people to the world of work can help them understand the work environment, choose future careers or prepare for employment. We need young people to be offered opportunities to develop new skills and gain experience across the world of work. Click on the below links for more information:

Contains public sector information published by the Health and Safety Executive and licensed under the Open Government Licence

Also contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.