Building Safety

Building safety in housing associations and social housing

Government guidance on building safety in housing

Building Safety in Housing

Housing associations are a vital part of the housing sector in the UK. They provide homes for around 6 million people, some of whom are the most vulnerable in society.

Building Safety is a key consideration for all housing associations and social housing providers. Residents that live in your homes have a right to feel safe and secure, and it’s your responsibility to make sure that they do.

 

Government Action

Since the Grenfell Fire in 2017, building safety in housing has come under the microscope. In the wake of the tragedy, a 2018 review by Dame Judith Hackitt Building a Safer Future uncovered systemic safety failings within the sector.

The UK government has, as a result, taken steps to ensure that buildings are safe and any risk is properly managed. The New Building Safety Bill completed all stages in the House of Lords on 4th April 2022 and will return to the House of Commons with amendments for debate. 

 

What is building safety in the context of housing?

Building safety is a broad term used to describe a wide range of structural issues and assets, from electrical equipment to escape routes, and everything in between.

Under the new Building Safety Bill all occupied high risk buildings will be required to have at least one clearly identifiable Accountable Person, known as the Principal Accountable Person, who is responsible for ensuring that fire and structural safety is being properly managed for the whole building. High risk buildings are classified as residential buildings of 18 metres or more in height, or at least seven storeys (whichever is reached first).

There are

2

social homes in the UK

About

3

high-risk residential buildings (18 metres or more in height, or at least 7 storeys)

In 2020

1

of social homes failed to meet Decent Homes Standard using the Housing Health and Safety Rating System 

Essential reading

Accountable Person

The new “Accountable Person” role is applicable to the “higher-risk” buildings once the building is in occupation. This factsheet covers their roles and responsibilities.

Building Safety Bill

Information relating to the Building Safety Bill, introduced in the House of Commons on 5 July 2021.

Summary: 9 Key Things You Need to Know About the New Building Safety Bill

A summary of the 2021 UK Building Safety Bill and the key points you need to know about.

Building Safety Regulator

The Building Safety Regulator is a role that will be carried out by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE). The HSE was appointed in early 2020 to put in place a new way of ensuring that there is a proactive regulation and oversight of high-risk buildings. They have the responsibility to create a Residents Panel to engage residents on policy and operational building safety issues.

Building a Safer Future Report

Building a Safer Future (BSF) was established to create a positive culture and behaviour change in building safety. Based on tried and tested approaches in other major hazard sectors we offer multiple tools to support organisations to improve their approach to leadership and culture in relation to building safety.

Social Sector Best Practice 

Independent report which sets out the recommendations about good practice when engaging with residents on fire and building safety issues

emergency exit

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If you are a housing provider, you have responsibilities under various laws depending on the jurisdiction.

UK

Legislation

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 

Details that any person who has some level of control in premises must take reasonable steps to reduce the risk from fire and make sure people can safely escape if there is a fire.

Part 3 of the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005, supported by the Fire Safety (Scotland) Regulations 2006

The legislation requires the provision of fire safety measures; this includes risk reduction, means of fire warning, fire-fighting, escape, staff training and instruction, as well as emergency procedures. It sets out fire safety responsibilities and seeks to ensure the safety of persons from harm caused by fire.

The Fire Safety Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2010

Outlines building owner responsibility to ensure risk assessments are carried out. Duty to eliminate or reduce the risk from fire as far as reasonably possible and provide general fire precautions to deal with any remaining risk.

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974

The Act sets out the general duties which employers have towards employees and members of the public, and employees have to themselves and to each other. 

The Building Regulations 2010

Covers Building Regulations that apply to most new buildings and many alterations of existing buildings in England and Wales, whether for domestic, commercial or industrial use. Compliance is a legal requirement. Codes include Structure, fire safety, ventilation, sound control, electrical safety and more.

Building (Scotland) Regulations 2004

Building regulations set out technical requirements applicable to building work to protect the public interest. regulations include Fire Safety, Energy, Ventilation, Structure.

Building Regulations NI 2012

The Building Regulations NI 2012 are intended to ensure the safety, health, welfare and convenience of people in and around buildings. They are also designed to further the conservation of fuel and energy.

Standards

BS 5839 | Fire detection & alarm systems for buildings

Code of practice for the design, installation, commissioning and maintenance of emergency voice communication systems

BS 5266 | Emergency Lighting

BS 5266-1 gives detailed guidance on the application and practice of emergency lighting.

BS 5306-8 | Fire extinguishing installations and equipment on premises – Commissioning and maintenance of portable fire extinguishers

Code of practice Fire extinguishing installations and equipment on premises

BS 8214 | Timber-based fire door assemblies

Provides guidance on the installation of fire doors, including the sealing of the gap between fire-rated door frames and the structural openings.

BS 9991: Fire Safety in the design, management and use of residential buildings

BS 9991 is intended to help put suitable fire safety measures in place in residential buildings, such as; fire detection and alarm systems, fire extinguishers. It gives recommendations and guidance on the design, management and use of residential buildings so they achieve reasonable standards of fire safety.

BS 9999 | Code of practice for fire safety in the design, management and use of buildings

Provides recommendations and guidance on the design, management and use of buildings to achieve acceptable levels of fire safety for people in and around buildings.

BS EN1634 | Fire resistance and smoke control tests for door and shutter assemblies, openable windows and elements of building hardware

Standard that specifies a method for determining the fire resistance of door and shutter assemblies and openable windows designed for installation within openings incorporated in vertical separating elements, such as: a) hinged and pivoted doors; b) horizontally sliding and vertically sliding doors including articulated sliding doors and sectional doors; c) folding doors, sliding folding doors /shutters; d) tilting doors; e) rolling shutter doors; f) openable windows; g) operable fabric curtains.

BS EN 50172 | Emergency Escape Lighting Systems

States the provision of illumination of escape routes and safety signs in the event of failure of the normal supply, and specifies the minimum provision of such emergency lighting based on the size, type and usage of the premises. This standard relates to the provision of electric emergency escape lighting in all workplaces and premises open to the public.

Ireland

Legislation

Fire Services Acts 1981

The Fire Services Act sets out the obligations of building owners with regard to Fire Safety (Section 18) and describes the potential fire safety defects that could lead to a building being categorised as a “potentially dangerous building” (Section 19).

The Building Control Regulations (1997 to 2019)

These regulations (of the Building Control Act 1990 – 2007) set out the building fire safety design approval process, including the application process, fees and fee exemptions, and the appeals mechanism.

Housing (Standards For Rented Houses) Regulations 2019

Landlords have a legal duty to ensure their rental properties meet certain minimum physical standards. The Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2019 sets out these minimum standards. This piece of legislation covers building structure, lighting, ventilation, sanitation, fire safety, heating facilities, electricial installation and other obligations.

Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 2005

The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 (the 2005 Act) states that employers must ‘ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the safety, health and welfare at work of his or her employees’. The person in control to any extent of the workplace should ensure a safe workplace, safe access, safe egress and safe articles or substances.

Standards

IS 291 | Selection, commissioning, installation, inspection and maintenance of portable fire extinguishers

Standard governing the selection, commissioning, installation, inspection and maintenance of portable fire extinguishers

IS 3217 | Emergency escape lighting

The Standard gives requirements for the clear indication of escape routes, the minimum level of illumination and the minimum duration of operation for emergency escape lighting in the event of failure of supply to the normal lighting.

IS 3218 | Fire Detection & Alarm Systems

This Standard provides requirements and recommendations for the planning, design, installation, commissioning, servicing and maintenance of fire detection and alarm systems in premises including those used for residential/domestic purposes.

IS EN 50172 | Emergency escape lighting systems

States the provision of illumination of escape routes and safety signs in the event of failure of the normal supply, and specifies the minimum provision of such emergency lighting based on the size, type and usage of the premises. This standard relates to the provision of electric emergency escape lighting in all work places and premises open to the public.

BS EN1634 | Fire resistance and smoke control tests for door and shutter assemblies, openable windows and elements of building hardware

Fire resistance and smoke control tests for door, shutter and openable window assemblies and elements of building hardware.

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