Block in a Box provides a range of services and solutions for those that self-manage their blocks of flats.
Taking on the responsibility of organising the health & Safety for your block can be understandably daunting, so the team at Block in a Box have teamed up with 4Site Consulting to offer you a range of services for your block.
Read our essential cover guide below.
When it comes to health and safety, it can be tempting for Residents’ Management Company (RMC) Directors to fall into an ‘it won’t happen to us’ mentality- a very dangerous mindset to adopt.
A huge part of a director’s role (legally and morally) is to ensure the safety of residents, staff and building visitors. Without proper risk-assessments for the common areas of your building, how can you be sure that you’ve done your duty and met your legal requirements?
If you need some guidance on what is expected of you and how risk assessment experts can help, read on.
This topic has been at the forefront of the minds of property professionals for the last few years. Since the Grenfell tragedy the conversation has, quite rightly, barely been out of the news. The obvious reasons for necessity aside, Fire Risk Assessments are a legal obligation for those managing blocks of flats.
Current guidance states only that the person or agent who manages the block is responsible for either carrying out or arranging ‘regular’ assessments and that the person who actually carries out the assessment must be ‘competent’. The guidance is fairly vague but can be clarified with some digging- luckily, we’ve done the hard work for you:
- There is reason to believe the current assessment for the block is no longer valid
- There have been any significant changes within the block such as major works
For purpose-built blocks that are less than 20 years old and up to 3 storeys above ground level:
- Re-assessments should be carried out every 2 years if no significant changes have occurred
- A full re-assessment should be carried out every 4 years if no significant changes have occurred
For older buildings or with more than 3 storeys:
- Re-assessments should be carried out every year even if no significant changes have occurred
- A full re-assessment should be carried out every 3 years even if no significant changes have occurred
For buildings considered extremely high risk, a full re-assessment on an annual basis is advised.
While the law simply states that the assessor must be competent enough to complete a ‘suitable and sufficient’ assessment of your particular building, it’s only with reference to leading industry bodies that some clarity is provided.
The Leasehold Advisory Service states that “if you don’t have the expertise or time to do a fire risk assessment yourself, you should appoint a specialist to do it for you…if you live in a large or complex building it is recommended that you get a professional to carry out the assessment.”
They go on to refer to The National Fire Chiefs Council who state that “No matter who carries out your fire risk assessment, duty holders retain responsibility for ensuring that the assessment fulfils the requirements of the law. If you have duties under Fire Safety law, you are not expected to be an expert in assessing and controlling fire safety risks, but even when employing a contractor to help with an assessment or additional safety measures, reasonable checks should be made to ensure that the contractor is competent to properly undertake the work.”
As well as making it clear that you should feel confident in approaching your local Fire and Rescue Authority for guidance (although it’s worth noting that they can’t carry out assessments or reviews for you), they also provide a handy download from the Fire Risk Assessment Competency Council that outlines a set of criteria which can be used to judge whether or not a person is deemed ‘competent’ in their eyes.
Once you’ve sorted your Fire Risk Assessment you can move on to other areas that need your attention. It may be best to engage with a professional company that can handle all of your assessments for you for the sake of ease, simplicity and ensuring all bases are covered.
A great Health and Safety Consultant, such as 4Site Consulting may be able to cover all of the below for you:
- Fire Risk Assessments and Fire Door Inspections
- General Health and Safety Assessments
- Asbestos Surveys and subsequent management
- Legionella Risk Management
- Contractor Management
- Staff Training
Once you’ve received your assessment reports, the recommendations made must be acted upon in full. Be sure to document your actions so you can defend yourself effectively in the event of a claim.
A good risk assessor will clearly identify the importance of each risk item on any assessment document and will state whether or not there is an urgent risk that requires immediate attention. The risk assessor should then set clear guidelines and timescales for any work to be carried out.
Taking on the role of RMC Director can be daunting and, with a to-do list as long as your arm, it can be easy to become overwhelmed and to plant your head firmly in the sand.
If you find yourself in this position, it’s best to do some research and find an assessment consultant that can come in and make sure all the boxes are ticked for you. Trying to do all the necessary assessments yourself may save money in the short term, it doesn’t guarantee that you’ve met your obligations, may cause more stress than it’s worth and may not serve you well if an accident does happen and a claim arises.
Residents are likely to fully understand the value of professional risk assessments for their homes and will most likely accept the additional cost involved in ensuring their safety.
further down the line.
Head to the Block in a Box website for the services we provide such as Manage Your Block and more about Block in a Box– services and solutions specifically designed to make the lives of RMC directors simpler and easier.