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 – 7TH JANUARY 2016

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IN THIS UPDATE

Introduction

Influential leaders shape Great Britain’s future health and safety strategy

Involving your workforce in health and safety – Guidance for all workers (HSG263)

Personal protective equipment at work (Third edition)

Selection and use of electric handlamps (Third edition)

Introduction

Welcome to our first health and safety news update of 2016 – we would like to take this opportunity to wish all of our readers a Happy and Prosperous New Year.

Since our last update, it has been announced that leading industry figures and other key influencers are being urged to have a say in shaping the future strategy for Great Britain’s health and safety system. Last month, the HSE published six themes that the five-year strategy will cover, as it begins engaging the people and organisations it thinks can help the nations and regions of Great Britain work well.

Also since our last update, the HSE has published three guidance documents. ‘Involving your workforce in health and safety’ is a new guide, mainly aimed at medium to large employers, aiming to help them in their legal duty to consult and involve their employees on health and safety matters. Guidance documents ‘Personal protective equipment at work (L25)’ and ‘Selection and use of electric handlamps (PM38)’ have been revised. L25 is primarily for employers and relevant self-employed persons but may also be useful for employees and those selecting PPE. PM38 gives guidance on the selection and use of suitable safe handlamps to prevent accidents. Electric handlamps (sometimes known as inspection lead lamps) can cause serious and fatal electrical accidents due to electric shock, fires and explosions in explosive atmospheres.

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

Influential leaders shape Great Britain’s future health and safety strategy

Leading industry figures and other key influencers are being urged to have a say in shaping the future strategy for Great Britain’s health and safety system.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) last month published six themes (click on the following link for more information: http://www.hse.gov.uk/strategy/) that the five-year strategy will cover, as it begins engaging the people and organisations it thinks can help the nations and regions of Great Britain work well.

HSE Chair Judith Hackitt said: “We can be proud of the country’s record on work-related safety and health – it’s one of the best in the world. Making it even better is the challenge, so that we can all continue to help Great Britain work well. Getting risk management right is an enabler for productivity, innovation and growth, and is integral to business success as well as the wellbeing of workers.

“We’re starting a conversation with a wide range of influencers – including employers, workers, local and central government, unions, other regulators and key representative groups – because it’s important that this is a strategy for all, shaped by all.”

Justin Tomlinson MP, Minister for Disabled People, with responsibility for health and safety, said: “In Government, we are determined to build a more productive Britain, one that rewards hard work and helps all to benefit from the opportunities of economic growth.

“It is essential that health and safety is part of that, supporting British employers in their ambition and supporting workers who want to get on.

“Taking sensible steps to keep workers safe and well is something that the best-run businesses do. It’s good for people, it’s good for productivity and it’s good for growth.”

More details on how people can join in will be released at www.hse.gov.uk/strategy in the coming weeks. Plans include events across Great Britain, digital discussion groups and a campaign hashtag: #HelpGBWorkWell

Involving your workforce in health and safety – Guidance for all workers (HSG263)

Last month the HSE published the above guide which is mainly aimed at medium to large employers. It will help them in their legal duty to consult and involve their employees on health and safety matters. Small businesses may find the guidance helpful, particularly the case studies. Employees, their health and safety representatives and trade unions may also find the guide useful.

The guide concentrates on examples of how to comply with the Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977 (as amended), and the Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations 1996 (as amended).

The guide is designed to clearly distinguish different types of information so you can find the parts that are relevant for you. References to the regulations are colour-coded.

This version has been updated to clarify examples of how to comply with the Regulations and to update links and references to other guidance.

The guide can be downloaded free by clicking on the following link: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/priced/hsg263.pdf

More guidance on involving your employees in health and safety is available on the HSE web page http://www.hse.gov.uk/involvement/involveemployees.htm or contact us on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk, and we’ll be happy to help.

Personal protective equipment at work (Third edition)

Last month, the HSE published the Third edition of their guidance on the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 (L25).

This guidance is primarily for employers and relevant self-employed persons but may also be useful for employees and those selecting PPE.

The key messages are:

  • It is essential that employers put in place all necessary safe systems of work, control measures and engineering solutions so that use of PPE is minimised
  • Where PPE is needed it must be the most appropriate for the identified risk and should only be issued where it further reduces the level of risk
  • PPE is a safeguard of last resort since it only protects the individual wearer

Changes to the guidance since the last edition:

  • It has been updated to clarify the requirement after the repeal of the Construction (Head Protection) Regulations 1989
  • It details changes to the provisions for head protection for turban wearing Sikhs following an amendment to the Employment Act 1989
  • It details changes required due to an amendment to Section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 relating to self-employed persons

The guidance can be downloaded free by clicking on the following link: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/priced/l25.pdf

More guidance on PPE is available on the HSE web page http://www.hse.gov.uk/toolbox/ppe.htm or contact us on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk, and we’ll be happy to help.

Selection and use of electric handlamps (Third edition)

Last November, the HSE published the Third edition of the above plant and machinery guidance note (PM38), which gives guidance on the selection and use of suitable safe handlamps to prevent accidents. Electric handlamps (sometimes known as inspection lead lamps) can cause serious and fatal electrical accidents due to electric shock, fires and explosions in explosive atmospheres.

The guidance can be downloaded free by clicking on the following link: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/guidance/pm38.pdf

For clarification or more information 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