6 easy steps to safer social housing

  • One in six households in England are renting social housing
  • Trips and slips are among the hazards that can lead to costly claims and reputational damage for Registered Providers (RPs) of social housing
  • Our health and safety checklist will help RPs establish whether any urgent action is needed

Despite the growth of the private rental sector over the past decade, latest figures show one in six households in England are still renting social housing.

This gives an idea of the level of responsibility shouldered by the 1,800 registered providers (RPs) of social housing in England.

Failure to appropriately manage health and safety hazards can lead to a variety of risks, including: injury, illness or loss of life, civil claims, regulatory fines and reputational damage. However, relatively simple solutions can significantly reduce the chances of such incidents happening.

Zurich Municipal’s Housing Operational Guide looks in detail at six key health and safety considerations for RPs. As well as reading this guide, our quick checklist below can help you establish any actions you may need to take now.

1. Slips, trips and falls

Do your building condition surveys and estate inspections cover:

  • The internal building fabric (including floor finishes in communal areas)?
  • Ceiling linings?
  • Voids above suspended ceilings?
  • Stair treads and hand rails?
  • External hard landscaping (e.g. street furniture, play areas and paving/surfacing)?
  • Parking areas and pathways?

2. Changes in level

Do you regularly check/assess the following:

  • External ramps?
  • Steps and walkways?
  • Handrails, balustrading and guarding for stairways and balconies?

3. Exits/means of escape

Do your assessments of escape routes to be used in the event of a fire or other major incident cover:

  • The condition and operation of internal fire doors and self-closing mechanisms?
  • The condition and ease of use of external fire escape stairs, including lighting and guarding?

Have you given tenants:

  • Guidance on the risks of leaving refuse in escape routes?
  • Information on waste disposal and recycling facilities?

4. Heating

Do you:

  • Pay particular regard to vulnerable tenants such as the elderly and young children when choosing heating systems?
  • Review these heating systems regularly?
  • Carry out appropriate maintenance and servicing, and have suitable ventilation, guarding and flues to eliminate fuel combustion risks?
  • Have clear policies on the installation of carbon monoxide detection devices?

5. Security

Do you regularly check the operation and security of:

  • Lighting and CCTV cameras?
  • Access-control systems to main entrances and individual homes?
  • Communal entrance doors?

6. Keeping records

Do your maintenance records include:

  • Component descriptions?
  • Maintenance requirements and frequency?
  • Necessary works identified/required?
  • Dangerous defects and urgent remedial actions?
  • Date of planned maintenance works?
  • Details of operative/company completing the works?
  • Satisfactory completion and sign-off?