‘Elf and safety’ has become a phrase for abuse and disregard within the UK. It is seen as a ‘busy bodies’ charter. But if you are a director of a property management company, you cannot afford to take this approach. Health and Safety is a vital part of your overall responsibility, and if you have a Managing Agent then it is equally important they are in tune with the subject.
At its simplest, if you are a company director, you have a ‘duty of care’ for all those that come in touch with the company, be it employees, visitors, contractors, whoever. In a leasehold property management context this means those that live in the property, anyone who does works there or comes on site, whether welcome or not, are entitled to this ‘duty of care’.
In our litigious world, someone who suffers harm is entitled to claim for pain and suffering. If they suffer harm because appropriate legislation has not been enacted, then the Directors could also be subject to criminal prosecution.
So here are a few things to consider in terms of managing health & safety at your property:
- The first step to tackling health and safety is to carry out a ‘risk assessment’. This is something that can be done on a do it yourself basis. However it is safest to engage a specialist to carry it out, especially initially. This assessment considers the property against a series of risk categories and assesses the potential risks. It will also assess how the risks can be avoided or ‘mitigated’.
- From the risk assessment, the Directors must then put in place a series of actions to achieve, to the ‘best of their ability’ the required mitigations. Some of these might be physical changes to the building, such as fire doors or warning signs. But often it will be routine inspections or checks to ensure that the risk identified does not occur. Remember the risks are not just things that are about to happen, risks are things that could happen, and therefore mitigations may be, for example, regular electrical safety checks, or an annual check of the roof to ensure nothing is likely to come crashing down.
- Doing the risk assessment is not a one off activity. It needs to be refreshed regularly, and if work is being done, or the building modified then this needs to be assessed for safety. Should the worse happen, your attitude towards safety will be an important factor in how the insurance will consider a subsequent claim.
Particularly challenging and where your property managing agent can be of particular help is in understanding the legislation that surrounds Health & Safety. In the context of a building this will include;
- an asbestos inspection
- adequate fire safety requirements
- electrical safety
That said, new legislation occurs from time to time, and it is important to keep up with this and understand how it applies to your property. Typical here is the requirement to have a Legionella assessment. Few communal properties have factors that will fall foul of the legislation. But by not having the property assessed you are risking a breach of the new guidelines for real estate and property management health and safety.
PM Property Services are a leasehold property management company who have personnel qualified in Health and Safety. We understand its’ importance and how to apply it. The company also has a range of specialist contractors they can call on in all safety related fields. If you want to find out more about how we can help you run your property please get in touch.