It’s not just fire – Other health and safety considerations

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By Alan Draper | Mar 2020

Post-Grenfell, there has been a lot of focus on fire safety. This section deals with other considerations such as electrical safety, asbestos, working at height, legionella and COSH

Electrical safety

A Periodic Inspection is an inspection on the condition of an existing electrical installation, to identify (in order of priority) any deficiencies against the National Standard, BS 7671, for the safety of electrical installations. A periodic inspection should:

  • reveal if any of your electrical circuits or equipment are overloaded
  • find any potential electrical shock risks and fire hazards in your electrical installation,
  • identify any defective DIY electrical work,
  • highlight any lack of earthing or bonding, and
  • identify departures from the National standard (BS 7671).


Landlords and agents have a duty to be aware of any material that contains asbestos in the communal areas of a block of flats. This includes the roof and main structure of the building as well.
To identify asbestos, it may be necessary to carry out a survey. If it is found ,it’s a good idea to maintain a register and to have a policy for the management and control of the material.
There’s no duty to remove asbestos. In many cases it’s far more dangerous to do so than to leave it. But it’s important to inform any contractors working in the block if asbestos is present.

Working at height

In simple terms, ‘Working at heights’ can apply to any height if a person could be injured falling from it.  This might include activities such as changing light bulbs, cleaning, testing smoke detectors clearing gutters and tree work. If a ladder or steps are supplied by the landlord or resident management company, then they should be checked regularly and a notice stuck on them with safety precautions for their use.

If any individual or sub-contractor is required to work from height, then a risk assessment must be made. It is always good practice to ask the contractor to provide a method statement and it is part of their duty to assess risk, but the landlord or their agent once again also has a duty. Remember, the landlord could be an RMC or RTM. So if you’re a resident director, part of the duty falls on you.


Legionella is a bacterium commonly found in water systems, which can cause Legionnaires’ disease. The landlord or agent has a duty to control the risks of legionella in any pipes, tanks and taps in communal areas. Cold water tanks, taps and showers within individual flats are the responsibility of the leaseholders, unless the lease puts responsibility for repairing them on the landlord.

COSH – Control of substances hazardous to health

The most relevant substances found in the communal areas of blocks of flats are cleaning materials and gardening chemicals. The duty is on the landlord or managing agent to assess the risks from any materials stored in the communal areas.

If a contractor is supplying their own materials, then the landlord or agent must obtain a COSHH risk statement from them.

The starting point is a risk assessment, usually carried out by an expert. If risks are identified, then a written action plan should be drawn up. The risk assessment should be reviewed annually

Further Reading

For more detailed information, you can refer to the following legislation or contact the Health and Safety Executive –

  • The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
  • The Work at Height Regulations 2005
  • The Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2012
  • The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences (Amendment) Regulations 2012
  • The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health 2002
  • The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005
  • The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989
  • The Private Water Supplies Regulations 1991
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