Health & Safety jumps up social housing agendaGrenfell Tower

An annual survey of social housing providers has found that health and safety has jumped up agenda in the post-Grenfell era, taking on second priority after the risks associated with welfare reform and universal credit.

Health and Safety was the fourth greatest concern for Social Housing providers in 2015/16 but is now regarded as the second greatest risk largely due to Grenfell Tower.

We also have our regular pick of this week’s HSE cases one of which looks at Duty holders under CDM2015

This week’s 2 recent HSE cases look at:

As ever, if you have a subject that you would like us to cover one week, please contact us by phone 01458 253682, email or via our Facebook page or by Twitter.

Health & Safety jumps up social housing agenda

An annual survey of social housing providers has found that health and safety has jumped up agenda in the post-Grenfell era, taking on second priority after the risks associated with welfare reform and universal credit.

According to a recent report, which looked at the 100 largest registered providers of social housing, 50 identified health and safety as one of their top three greatest risks.

While health and safety was the fourth greatest concern in 2015/16, it is now regarded as the second greatest risk.

A Senior partner and head of social housing at accountants and business advisers, Beever and Struthers, said:

“Health and safety has continued to increase in prominence over the past three years and is now the second most frequently documented risk.

“This is still a key area for potential governance downgrading due to gas safety and fire risk assessment failures, and in particular reflects additional scrutiny following the events at Grenfell Tower.”

Housing associations that receive public funds are regulated by the government’s Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), which holds them to a number of standards, for instance on financial viability and value for money.

Under the Home Standard, providers are required to meet all relevant regulations relating to safety, include the Gas Safety Regulations and the Fire Safety Order.

In the event of a breach, they can be sanctioned by the HCA as well as the relevant regulators, ie the HSE and Fire and Rescue Services.

The review highlights that one of the top 100 housing providers, Symphony Housing Group, had been downgraded by the HCA in July 2016 from a G1, the highest possible rating, to a non-compliant G3.

This was partly because the housing association could not assure the HCA that all its homes met health and safety requirements. However, Symphony was later upgraded to level G2 in January 2018.

The HCA also issued six regulatory notices to housing providers in 2016/17, with three related to gas safety issues, and another two for fire risk assessments.

Apart from health and safety, other key risks identified by the social housing sector included IT security, the economic climate, staffing, government policy, development, access to finance, rent reduction and the housing market.

So how can these housing providers raise the profile of Health and Safety?

Managing health and safety can be a logistical nightmare but one social housing provider in London is trying to raise standards.

The Hyde Group is a housing association managing 49,000 homes in London and the south East for 105,000 residents. Their property services team is responsible for the repair and maintenance of these homes, with about 150,000 contracts carried out each year by in-house contractor and external contractors as well.

Their priority is to ensure all repairs and maintenance jobs are carried out to the highest standards and safely, to protect residents, their employees and contractors’ operatives from harm.

They realised a more consistent approach to health and safety was needed across their operations, one that had the buy-in of our contractors and one that could build upon their experience and the lessons they have learnt. They also wanted a platform that enabled them to raise awareness of particular issues across the entire workforce.

The result is the Property Services Health and Safety Core Group, which appears to be unique in the social housing sector.

The group, which meets quarterly, is made up of staff from Hyde and Hyde Property Services and representatives from their external contractors. Residents have also been invited to join the meetings.

Perhaps one of the reasons this forum is “unusual” in this sector, is that its success depends upon participants having a high level of trust in, and a mutual respect for, one another, particularly when it comes to sharing what might be seen as confidential information.

The group set itself a number of targets. The “Near miss? See it, report it” initiative aims to encourage Hyde staff and contractors’ operatives to report every near miss or unsafe act, as these can often be accidents waiting to happen.

Posters have been put up in all their contractors’ offices and on site and they are making it as easy as possible to report near misses, either using a card that can be posted to them or via a web portal.

In line with the philosophy of the forum, the emphasis is on the positive benefits of reporting, and sharing the learning from it, rather than apportioning blame. While it is early days, they have received very positive feedback from their contractors and the indications are that the campaign will help them reduce accidents on site.

The group has also just finalised a new Contractors’ Code of Conduct and a CDM 2015 Contractors’ Charter. Both documents lay out exactly what they expect from their contractors, in terms of their continual commitment to health and safety and in providing the best possible service to the housing association and its residents.

Their next target is to raise awareness of the risks of working at height. According to the HSE’s latest figures, published at the beginning of November, falling from height is still the biggest cause of fatal injuries in the construction industry, responsible for nearly half of the 196 construction deaths in the five years to 2016/17, which makes it a key area of focus.

The theory behind establishing the Health and Safety Core Group is fairly obvious: ensuring they and their contractors meet their duty of care to keep employees, residents and the general public safe from harm.

“Putting this theory into practice could have been a major challenge but we have been pleasantly surprised by the willingness and enthusiasm of everyone to get involved and engage fully with the group. Ultimately we all benefit: safer sites are more efficient and help Hyde meets it objective of delivering better landlord services.”

– Colin Harnor is head of stock investment at the Hyde Group

The Wilkins Safety Group applaud this as a fantastic approach to health and safety and ask if our local Social Housing Providers are able to see the benefits from this initiative. We are more than willing to work with any such provider to help them raise their standards

If you would like any further help or support, please please contact us by phone 01458 253682, email or via our Facebook page or by Twitter.

Taunton & Somerset CPD Group at The Exchange House TauntonExchange House

Please remember that we now run these CPD events at the Exchange House, 12 – 14 The Crescent, Taunton TA1 4EB.

The next of the CPD events is listed below.

As previously requested, if you could let us know whether or not you can attend it would be greatly appreciated. Also, if you would like to give a talk, or know of somebody who would, please contact Jon at [email protected].

Our next Seminar will be on Wednesday 20th June 2018. Could you please arrive by 12:30pm prompt.

Our speaker for this one is James Spencer of Isothane Ltd will talk about “Spray applied and injected polyurethane foam insulation”

If you haven’t already booked your place, or if you are not on the CPD Seminar mailing list but would like to be please drop Jon an email and he will deal with your request.

As per our last one if you could let Jon know whether or not you can attend within 7 days of receipt of his email, it would be greatly appreciated.

Contact Details [email protected]  07831 714199 or 01458 253682

The meetings will then take a break over July and August as in previous years, returning in September when we aim to have them fortnightly.

FREE Health and Safety eventtraining pic

We are hosting a free to attend Health & Safety event on Thursday 14th June 2018 at the Taunton Racecourse, Orchard Portman, Taunton TA3 7BL.

This will cover ALL businesses in the morning and then mainly construction related businesses in the afternoon.

We will look at what you need to do to meet your legal requirements regarding Health and Safety and it will give you the opportunity to discuss your needs with members of our team, including Occupational Health & Safety Specialists, CDM Consultants, Asbestos Surveyor, COMAH Expert and our Fire Consultant.

There will be a couple of short talks in each session with a finger buffet lunch when you can talk to our team as well as network with other attendees.

Please note: Places are limited so book as soon as you can. For more information and to book your place call the Wilkins Safety Group Ltd on 01458 253682 or email us at [email protected]