Keep faith, Stay at home, work from home & stay safe

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UK Covid19 Lockdown: Only emergency repairs allowed, Landlords and Estate Agents told

The latest advice issued today is that although tradespeople can complete repairs at properties if they take precautions, landlords should avoid face-to-face contact with existing or prospective tenants.

The government has told landlords and letting agents that they should not conduct house viewings or complete routine inspections of properties, but has said that their tradespeople can complete emergency repairs.

See the source imageBut confirmation has yet to come through from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government about essential tasks such as gas safety and electrical equipment testing and whether these will be exempt from the lockdown as ‘essential services’.

It is also understood that ministers are considering whether to allow many of the companies serving the private rented sector to continue doing their work if a property is owned by someone working in frontline health and emergency services.

Until yesterday industry organisation Gas Safe Register was recommending to landlords that they book inspections by an approved engineer as soon as possible if their renewal date was within the next two months.

The organisation says that following the lock-down announcement last night, it is urgently seeking guidance from the Cabinet Office and the Health and Safety Executive about whether residential property safety inspections will be deemed ‘essential services’.

Also, landlords who are refurbishing properties can continue their work as construction sites have also been given the green light as essential service, it was confirmed this morning.

But all this advice from government remains just that – guidance; the necessary legislation to make it an offence to ignore the rules has yet to make its way through parliament, although this is expected to be achieved at any moment.

One grey area is whether landlords can help tenants move into or out of a property; there are a large number of outstanding rental tenancy contracts that were signed and paid for up-front before the Coronavirus shutdown, and now lockdown, gripped the nation.

Source: LandlordZone

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Louis Vuitton to use perfume production lines to start making hand sanitiser

Louis Vuitton owner LVMH will use its perfume production lines to start making hand sanitiser to protect people against the coronavirus outbreak.

The luxury goods maker says it wants to help tackle a nationwide shortage of the anti-viral products across France.

“These gels will be delivered free of charge to the health authorities,” LVMH announced on Sunday.

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France has now seen 120 deaths from the coronavirus as the pandemic spreads.

“LVMH will use the production lines of its perfume and cosmetic brands… to produce large quantities of hydroalcoholic gels from Monday,” LVMH said in a statement.

The factories normally produce perfume and makeup for luxury brands like Christian Dior and Givenchy.

The French luxury conglomerate also owns well-known brands such as champagne maker Moet & Chandon, watchmaker Tag Heuer and jeweller Bulgari.

“LVMH will continue to honour this commitment for as long as necessary, in connection with the French health authorities,” the company said.

France has closed its restaurants, cafes and non-essential stores in an effort to combat the virus, which has infected an estimated 165,000 people and killed more than 6,000 worldwide.

Governments across the world have called on manufacturers to help make products that are running low during the virus outbreak.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to ask UK engineering firms on Monday to shift production to build ventilators for the NHS.

In China, at the peak of its coronavirus outbreak in February, electronics giant Foxconn switched some of its production from Apple iPhones to make surgical masks.

Source: BBC News

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Does Health & Safety at work apply to my domestic building project?

Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, employers have statutory obligations to adhere to, based on Common Law principles. The effect of the Act has been to bring ALL people at work (and others) under the protection of the law. The Act covers all employment activities and applies to employers, self-employed persons, sub-contractors, visitors to places of employment, employees, directors and managers, members of the public, designers, suppliers, etc. It also provides the HSE with various enforcement powers.

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Whether you are overseeing the project yourself or employing a builder or contractor to carry out the work, understanding the importance of safety, health and welfare is very important. There are grey areas of health & safety regarding projects that are undertaken by homeowners themselves. Whereas the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 encompasses all work carried out by professionals during their daily activities, homeowners who are undertaking the work themselves are not covered by it. However, there is a moral duty of care by the homeowner to any person who has contact with the building project. This means any person who has contact with the project has a right under health & safety law to be protected from danger.

If you are going to employ the service of a professional to carry out any elements of the work for example electrician or gas engineer, they should have public liability insurance and qualified to work to good building practices. All appropriate measures should be taken to remove or reduce the risks of accident or incidents, by introducing methods of controlling the risk.  It is important to satisfy yourself (as far as is reasonable) that the professionals you employ are qualified and competent to carry out the work in a safe manner.

If you are responsible for a building project site and a person is injured due to negligence on your part, legal action could be taken against you. If you are in any doubt as to where you stand with regard to health & safety, or if you require any advice or information, visit the HSE website: http://www.hse.gov.uk

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How to know a good building contractor

One of the most important decisions you are likely to make when undertaking a building project of any size is that of employing the services of a building contractor or property professionals such as electricians, plumbers, gas engineers, etc.

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Before making the all-important decision of awarding the contract to a specific builder or professional, it would not be unreasonable to as to see work on which they are currently engaged or recently done. Seeing at first hand and speaking to the client on how they treat the client’s property and how they work will give you an idea of what to expect if you decide to employ them.

Below are some tell-tale signs of good building practice and responsible behaviour:

  • vehicles associated with the site are parked sensibly
  • the site on first appearance is clean, tidy and organised
  • roads and pavements are not damaged or muddy
  • where appropriate, suitable fencing is available
  • the site facilities are appropriate for the project
  • workers’ appearance is in keeping with a professional outfitSee the source image
  • equipment is clean and in good order
  • no trailing leads are evident, except in close proximity to the work
  • standard of work appears to be good
  • workers are polite
  • noise levels are acceptable (no loud radios)
  • security and health & safety signs are evident, ie visitors to report to site office, there are warning signs for pedestrians that construction work is in progress, standard health & safety signs.
  • workers are wearing Personal Protection Equipment
  • the company vehicles are well presented
  • a company sign is on display
  • where appropriate, material is neatly stacked and protected

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Building Project: The 4 major Health and Safety signs you must know

When undertaking a building project you must comply with Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996. Safety signs and signals are required where, despite putting in place all other relevant measures, a significant risk to the health and safety of employees and others remains.

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Safety signs are in place to alert employees, customers and visitors to the risks and, where appropriate, show safe practice. Safety signs are used in a range of environments, for example traffic signs in the workplace to regulate road traffic, safety signs to identify hazards or safety signs to indicate where fire exits and fire extinguishers are.

The 4 major Health and safety signs are;

  1. Safety Condition signs (Green and White) – giving you information that is only about safety action, location of safety equipment, safety facility or escape route. Safe condition signs generally use a white safety symbol on a green background.
  2. Warning signs (Yellow and white) – alerting you to hazards or danger indicate when there are potential  safety risks or dangerous situations that require attention to anyone who is on the premises in order to protect themselves. They are highly visible and colour coded to make them easier to understand, warning signs are yellow.
  3. Mandatory signs (Blue and White) – meaning you must do something and is depicted by a blue circle with a white pictogram. They inform employees and visitors that a certain course of action must be taken; such as wearing PPE, sounding horn and washing hands. Below are our most popular ISO compliant mandatory symbols. Wear eye protection.
  4. Prohibition signs (Red and white) – meaning you must not do something such as a behaviour / action likely to cause a risk to health or safety. Prohibition signs are required to be red circle with a red diagonal line through it (running from top left to bottom right)

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Building Project: The 5 Risk Assessment stages you must know

This Building Industry Risk Assessment contains about 43 task specific risk assessments covering a variety of activities undertaken on building sites. The risk assessments range from unloading the delivery lorries to bricklaying, plastering and painting.

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The use of  Risk Assessment (Task Specific Risk Assessment Forms) is an important exercise that not only helps you to make the workplace safer for yourself, your workers and eliminate accidents, but also assists you in complying with the relevant health and safety legislation, save money  and the internment. By using a systematic method of looking at your work activities and assessing what could go wrong you will go a long way to ensuring your safety and the safety of your employees on site. If you use a contractor they will be asked to provide risk assessments before starting work. Risk Assessment, when properly down, will show the relevant authority (HSE) that you are serious about managing health and safety on site.

If you are new to carrying out risk assessments you may find it useful to use the 5 Risk Assessment stages below and there are templates Task Specific Risk Assessment Forms available to buy and use.

5 stages of Risk Assessment

  1.  Identify the hazards
  2. Identify the people at risk
  3. Evaluate the risks and plan
  4. Record plan and train
  5. Periodically review

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