Every director on the board of a Residents’ Management Company has a duty to comply with a range of health and safety regulations that protect all leaseholders and third parties with authorised access. It’s not an area you can skimp on and there are no shortcuts. The corporate penalties for breaches can be very severe, up to and including corporate manslaughter in the worst scenario.
The Health and Safety risk assessment
Whether for an apartment block or a managed estate, it’s a legal requirement that the RMC carries out, documents and acts upon an annual risk assessment of all communal and external areas (including the roof). This ensures a safe working environment for leaseholders, visitors and all contractors. The bottom line is that if there’s an incident and no risk assessment – or there’s an assessment whose recommendations have been ignored – the RMC may be prosecuted by the Health & Safety Executive.
The property management company and contractors
Any contractor or self-employed person instructed by the managing agent, on behalf of the RMC, is responsible for ensuring they do not carry out any work that is likely to harm members of the public. When instructing contractors, the managing agent is responsible for ensuring that those contractors have appropriate qualifications to carry out the work allocated to them and in a way that will not endanger others. This includes robust Working at Height processes. A breach may result in a civil claim and/or investigation and potential prosecution by the Health & Safety Executive.
Running an annual fire safety risk assessment is a legal requirement – as is documenting it and acting on any recommendations. Your local fire officer can enter your site at any time to conduct a fire safety inspection, even if there’s been no fire incident.
Legislation requires the RMC to take all necessary safety precautions with all electrical systems and conductors. We recommend annual testing and the fixed wiring in the communal areas must be tested by a qualified engineer every five years. Breaches may mean prosecution.
Legionella, hazardous substances and asbestos
The RMC has a legal obligation to put in place all necessary checks and controls that protect heating, water, ventilation and air conditioning systems from potentially fatal Legionella bacterial infection – as well as for storage and use of all hazardous substance and the discovery and disposal of asbestos. Again, breaches may end in prosecution.
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