The importance of Health and Safety management

Good Health and Safety management not only protects businesses, owners and their staff from criminal prosecution and personal injury claims, it also promotes the image and reputation of the company.

In relation to property management in particular, issues such as fire safety, asbestos management, water safety, electrical safety, trips and falls can all result in incidents that can have serious effects on the Health and Safety of residents, visitors, employees and contractors. If not managed properly these can result in injuries or even fatalities, legal prosecution and financial loss through both fines and civil compensation, poor image and reputation.

Legal Duty

There is a legal duty to put in place suitable arrangements to manage Health and Safety. The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 require that there are arrangements to control Health and Safety risks.

As a minimum, there should be processes and procedures in place to meet the legal requirements, including:

  • A written Health and Safety policy;
  • Assessments of the risks to employees, contractors, residents, and any other people who could be affected – and the significant findings recorded in writing. Any risk assessment must be ‘suitable and sufficient’;
  • Arrangements for the effective planning, organisation, control, monitoring and review of the preventive and protective measures that come from risk assessment;
  • Access to competent Health and Safety advice;
  • Providing information about the risks and how they are controlled;
  • Instruction and training in how to deal with the risks;
  • Ensuring there is adequate and appropriate management in place;
  • Consulting with employees, contractors, residents, and any other people who could be affected, about the risks and current preventive and protective measures.

All blocks of flats, including houses that have been converted into flats, are required to have a Health and Safety, including Fire Safety, risk assessment carried out of the communal areas. This is a legal requirement under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. It may be argued that the communal areas of such properties are not a place of work. However, the Courts and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) do include such communal areas in Health and Safety regulations. This means that if any resident, visitor, employee, or contractor enters them, a risk assessment must be made.

Communal Areas

Communal areas do not just mean the internal parts of the building – they also include the roof, structure and other external areas. When carrying out a risk assessment, all areas including gardens, grounds, plant rooms, electrical intake cupboards/rooms and lift motor rooms should be included, particularly as these areas are likely to be attended by employees or contractors carrying out their work.

The duty to comply with these Health & Safety regulations falls on the landlord or person responsible for managing the building. That could be a managing agent, a Residents' Management Company (RMC) or a Right to Manage Company (RTM). Health & Safety should never be ignored or dismissed simply because it costs money. The cost of failing to comply if there is an accident or injury could be far greater.

Can you afford such failures?

Understanding the importance of effective Health and Safety management you will help create a safe environment, reduce the risk of personal injury, limit property damage, minimise business interruption, and build protection against insurance claims. More importantly, complying with the law and will hopefully avoid prosecution. Remember, Directors and Managers can be held personally responsible for failures to control Health and Safety.

4site Consulting Limited is an independent Health & Safety Consultancy providing a 'one stop shop' range of specialist compliance services for owners, occupiers/tenants and managers of commercial property and residential blocks.

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