Health and Safety
15 Jul 2015
It has been a busy couple of months with our recent Resident Forums, held at five of the developments we manage across the region.
It was nice to meet so many leaseholders and talk about everything we have been doing at Elm over the last 12 months.
I had several conversations with people at the forums about health and safety on our estates. The term ‘health and safety’ throws up so many connotations and if you read a newspaper regularly you will have no doubt seen many ‘health and safety gone mad’ headlines and stories. It seems like every autumn there is a race to see which school can be the first to ban children from playing conkers due to ‘health and safety’!
Stories like that have certainly given health and safety an image problem and some people do seem to take things to the extreme. However, as a Landlord and Managing Agent there are many regulations in place which we must adhere to and I think this should be seen as a positive thing for residents. Looking after buildings and keeping people safe in their homes is essentially what Elm is here to do. Whilst we don’t want to ban anybody from playing conkers on our estates there are things we do have to do and sometimes these are not always popular with residents.
One area that we will always pay particular attention to is fire safety on our estates, our legal responsibilities are mostly outlined in The Housing Act 2004 and The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. These Acts include many obligations such as making sure that any communal electrical and gas appliances are inspected and tested regularly to make sure they are kept in safe working condition.
As a Landlord and Managing Agent we will ensure that a Fire Risk Assessment is carried out every 3 years and reviewed annually by the Area Manager and the Estate Manager. The Fire Risk Assessment will usually be carried out by a professional risk assessor who will make any recommendations they feel are appropriate. Based on the findings of the assessment, we need to ensure that adequate and appropriate fire safety measures are in place to minimise the risk of injury or loss of life in the event of a fire.
As well as working with external contractors we also work closely with local Fire Services in each of the counties and boroughs we work in. Our staff work with the Fire Safety Inspectors in each area and this has highlighted that each Inspector will interpret risk differently when they are walking around the communal areas of our buildings. The feedback they give us is invaluable so we will always seek the Fire Service’s advice and arrange to carry out any work they recommend.
Over the last couple of years you may have had conversations with an Area Manager or an Estate Manager about removing pictures and ornaments in communal areas. This is likely to have been the result of instructions from a risk assessor or from the Fire Service. We do not want our developments to look bare or unwelcoming which is why we will work with you to ensure that anything that is on the corridor walls or any furniture in the common areas is safe and wouldn’t pose a risk in the event of fire.
The essential work we have done has meant that we have had to use money from future maintenance and sinking funds and I know there have been some difficult conversations. However, the works that have been carried out not only reduce the risk of a fire starting in the first place but also will help to prevent a fire spreading should one occur.
If you would like to know more there is a lot of useful information in relation to fire safety available online, the Government publish a number of helpful guides:
Ben Williams, Head of Operations