Landlords to fit smoke & carbon monoxide (CO) alarms

The Government has announced that it is intended that landlords will be required to install working smoke alarms and where gas appliances are fitted, carbon monoxide (CO) alarms as well, in their properties.  This is in a bid to raise safety and reduce the number of deaths from CO incidents in the rental sector.

The move is expected to prevent some 26 fatalities and 670 injuries per year, and is part of wider Government actions being undertaken to ensure there are sufficient measures in place to protect public safety.

These measures are expected to become effective from October 2015 subject to Parliamentary approval.  Consultation has shown that this will be strongly supported.  It has been suggested that England’s 46 fire and rescue authorities will provide support to private landlords within their areas by providing free alarms using grant funding from the government.

Fire AlarmThe proposed changes to the law would require landlords to install smoke alarms on every floor of their property, and test them at the start of every tenancy agreement.

These should be fitted to the ceiling, especially close to areas of high risk (kitchens for example) and outside bedrooms.

 

CO AlarmLandlords would also need to install carbon monoxide alarms in high risk rooms – such as those where a solid fuel heating system is installed.  Although gas and oil may not be considered as solid fuel, CO alarms should also be fitted.  In the rooms where these appliances are installed at a horizontal distance of between 1m and 3m from the source.  If only one alarm is fitted it is best fitted relatively close to the breathing zone of the occupants.

Failure to comply could see landlords face up to a £5,000 penalty.

Brandon Lewis, Housing Minister, said “The vast majority of landlords offer a good service and have installed smoke alarms in their homes, but I’m changing the law to ensure every tenant can be given this important protection.”  “But with working smoke alarms providing the vital seconds needed to escape a fire, I urge all tenants to make sure they regularly test their alarms to ensure they work when it counts.  Testing regularly remains the tenant’s responsibility”

Stephen Williams, Communities Minister, said “We’re determined to create a bigger, better and safer private rented sector – a key part of that is to ensure the safety of tenants with fire prevention and carbon monoxide warning.”  “People are at least 4 times more likely to die in a fire in the home if there’s no working smoke alarm.”

Steve Martin, Head of the Fire and Security Association, said: “This announcement will help improve the safety of rented accommodation and punish those landlords who are putting the safety of their tenants at risk for the sake of saving a relatively small sum of money.  Now private rented properties will be brought into line with the existing building regulations that require newly-built homes to have hard-wired smoke alarms installed.”

Holborn fire highlights how vital emergency evacuation & business continuity plans are!

holborn fireThe fire which started as an electrical fault in a well maintained Victorian tunnel beneath the Kingsway on Wednesday 1st April burned until the Good Friday.  This fire damaged an eight-inch gas main, which ruptured further fuelling the fire resulting in flames and smoke coming out of manhole covers in the road above.  Modern technology proved itself in the use of infra-red images of hot spots from the National Police Air Service helicopter and live images in the tunnel using the Met Police’s explosives robot.

It caused about 5,000 people to evacuate from various buildings and roadways in the area and is estimated that approximately 100 businesses were affected as well as thousands of tenants.  UK Power stated that over 3,000 people were affected by the power outage that for some continued until Good Friday.

Although the London emergency services and UK Power Network, National Grid and local councils acted together very successfully to contain the fire and extinguish what could have been a disaster for London, it is a warning to all London’s businesses and managed properties to have plans in place to protect the occupants, their property and businesses.

What should be in place?

Firstly a Fire Risk Assessment followed by a Fire Emergency Plan; these ensure that all the risks involving possible fires have been identified, with control measures (either in place or planned) and a plan of how everyone’s safety will be ensured.  The Emergency Plan may have total evacuation, partial or to stay put until the Fire Brigade decide otherwise and importantly tested to be usable.  This is the responsibility of the person ultimately in charge of the building to make sure this is in place.

Secondly, what happens if the ‘event’ continues on for days, weeks or months?  This is where the Business Continuity Plan comes into play.  Scenarios such as this fire are planned out with business responses that enable the business to continue functioning until everything is restored.

If you do not have these in place for either your business or a managed property (with more than one dwelling) then you need one – call Jane for advice on 01279 810125 or email her at janep@dmgdelta.co.uk.

For details regarding our H&S services that we offer to clients then please click here.

Are you using a competent Gas Safe company?

Gas is fundamentally unsafe yet used all over the UK in both domestic and commercial premises, but over the past 26 years the Regulations, Registers and best practices have improved, reducing the number of gas related incidents and more particularly the number of fatalities has fallen dramatically.

gas safeIn an effort to make gas safe the Gas Safe Register was created, it is not a voluntary register – all gas engineers have to be registered! CHECK the register for your Gas Engineer – it could be a life you save! www.gassaferegister.co.uk and click on the yellow text to check either a Business or an Engineer.

All of DMG Delta’s Gas engineers are Gas Safe registered, in various skill bases to ensure we have the skills to match our Client’s expectations and needs.  As a company we are registered with Gas Safe (registered number is 23956), which means that our management system is annually audited by Gas Safe.  We have passed this year with no non-conformities or recommendations identified, although we have made improvements to the system as part of our continuous improvement programme.

Using a Gas Safe registered contractor for your gas appliances and plant rooms not only ensures that you are compliant with the regulations, but also that the work undertaken will be completed by a very competent person who has undergone formal training in specific skill sets, leaving your premises safe and your equipment functioning longer due to excellent maintenance.

With over 30 years’ experience as heating engineers in both the domestic and commercial environment, DMG Delta Ltd is a company that really beats your expectations when it comes to plant room and domestic servicing, as well as installation work in the London area.  We work actively with you to make sure that your gas installations are and remain compliant and safe.

Electricity - Friend or Foe?

In today’s age everyone has a house full of electrical gadgets, equipment and tools. We might hear folk moaning about the gadgets, especially when they plug2 stop working, but all in all we really are reliant on electricity – life without it would be hard!

There is no doubt that in the home electrical faults are the top cause of fires, which is the opposite of fires at work (this is because at work equipment and circuits get tested – at home they generally are not).

During 2011/12 there were 37,601 accidental fires of electrical origin and 244 deaths! Of this 11,954 were cooking appliances, 2,899 electrical supply, 1,083 washing machines and tumble driers, 767 lighting and 475 dishwashers!

What is not available is the number of fires caused by chargers overheating, there is certainly records of these being the cause of some fires.

I hope we all know the dangers of electricity and no-one has any of these culprits in their home – if you have then get rid today!

Faulty PlugEven extension boards are unsafe – quote I heard the other day – they are supposed to be a temporary solution not a permanent one! If you are going to have an extension board in situ for a length of time then make sure it is fused, and perhaps even surge protected into an RCD socket.

If you find a fault at home, but more especially at work then unless you are employed as a qualified electrician then you must not attempt to repair it! Either call an electrician or take it to the dump.

If you do see someone experiencing an electrical shock then you need to know what to do. The electricity will have found a route through the body to ground – don’t add yourself into this circuit!

DO NOT touch the person until you are sure the electricity is off, otherwise there will be two casualties.

Use something that is not conductive (a wooden broom would be good), to move the electrical items away from the person.

If they are conscious take them to hospital (even when they say they don’t need to), as electricity will track through the body until it finds ground. This could mean going through the heart – there may not be any pain or other symptoms but the organs could still be burnt.

If they are not conscious call 999 or 112 as this will be an emergency!

Overloaded Plug

Home safety is as important as office safety! 
Don’t get paranoid about electricity,
But do make sure you have control measures in place,
And know what to do to make your family safe!

Gas Safety Week: Fighting for a Gas Safe nation

GasSafetyWeek_Black-Logo_RGBWe are proud to be supporting Gas Safety Week 2014, taking place 15th – 21st September.

Gas Safety Week is an annual safety week to raise awareness of gas safety and the importance of taking care of your gas appliances. It is co-ordinated by Gas Safe Register, the official list of gas engineers who are legally allowed to work on gas.

Badly fitted and poorly serviced gas appliances can cause gas leaks, fires, explosions and carbon monoxide poisoning. Every year thousands of people across the UK are diagnosed with carbon monoxide poisoning. It is a highly poisonous gas. You can’t see it, taste it or smell it, but it can kill quickly with no warning.

All our engineers are Gas Safe approved

Asbestos - surely this won't affect me or mine!

asbestosWe find it amazing that although it has been used for centuries, and during the industrial revolution to a far greater extent – it was finally diagnosed as responsible for deaths by the early 1900’s – yet it took the better part of a century for it to be banned totally in the UK!

Over 4,000 deaths a year in the UK are asbestos related, worldwide it is predicted that 2 million will die in the next 20 years. Not all of these are the employees that you would imagine to be more exposed. Some are wives of these workers who have been unlucky enough to breathe in the fibres from their husband’s work clothes.

Sadly it does not take a huge amount of asbestos to cause the harm – sometimes even a little bit is enough. Because of the Two Towers horror, there is a potential for 410,000 people, who were exposed to the dust cloud following the collapse, to have inhaled asbestos and may suffer in the next few years to the cancerous dangers of asbestos. There are already deaths attributed to this and although it usually takes 20 to 50 years for the effects to become deadly, it is thought because of the extreme amount of breathable asbestos dust, the disease has been sped up. Over 40 tons was used in the building of these towers – the UK is much the same in its use of asbestos.

There are three main types of asbestos, some are worse than others but none of them are nice once they have been damaged.

Asbestos has been useful for its insulation properties (heat and noise in particular) but it has been at a much higher cost than anyone thought possible. Don’t get us wrong, it is safe and does a brilliant job, but once it has been damaged it is a killer.

Schools and hospitals built before 1985 are prime areas for asbestos to have been incorporated into the building structure. Was your house built before 2000 and particularly before 1985? Then it is likely that you have had or still have asbestos lurking in some parts of your home!

Construction

Builders & Occupiers
(Building, Plumbing, Electrical, Joinery, Carpentry, Surveying, Architects)

Education

Employees, Children & Visitors
(Commonly used in old school buildings)

Health

Employees, Patients & Visitors
(Commonly used in old hospitals)

Fire & Rescue

Firemen, other Emergency Services, Injured People, General Public
(Inhalation of fibres in building & fire retardant product broken down & released by fire)

Demolition & Explosions

Employees & General Public

(Disturbance of Asbestos when demolishing old buildings)

The table above shows how many establishments, and the people who are most at risk.

A recent survey of 153 schools by the HSE revealed that 44 schools neeed intervention as a minimum reaction by the HSE. This is why the number of school caretakers who now have asbestosis or related diseases are on the increase.

asbestos 2