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Hot Topic Highlight - RICS Surveying Safely (2nd Edition)



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What is today's blog about?


This week, we are looking at the new RICS Surveying Safely Guidance Note (2nd Edition). Essential reading for AssocRICS and RICS APC candidates.


You can also listen to our CPD podcast on Anchor for more free AssocRICS and RICS APC training and support.


Why is health & safety important?


Ensuring that you take responsibility for the health & safety of yourself and others under your care is an essential requirement of being a Chartered Surveyor.


You may already be familiar with the tragic story of Suzy Lamplugh, an estate agent who disappeared during the course of her work as an estate agent in 1986.


You can read more about what happened on the Suzy Lamplugh Trust website, as well as downloading their guides to keeping yourself safe on site.


What RICS guidance exists?


RICS Guidance Note, Surveying safely: health and safety principles for property professionals (2nd Edition, November 2018) will replace the 1st Edition from February 2019. 


The new Guidance Note is your best friend when it comes to health & safety. It provides an overview of best practice for surveyors, including corporate and personal responsibilities relating to health & safety. 


We also recommend that you read and understand the requirements of your employer's health & safety policy - as well as being essential to ensuring that you act responsibly and to the highest standards, you may be asked about it during your RICS APC final assessment interview.


What are the key changes?


The RICS have introduced the ‘safe person’ concept. This is when ‘each individual assumes individual behavioural responsibility for their own, their colleagues’ and others’ health and safety while at work’.


There is also a greater emphasis on ensuring the competence of individuals, including their responsibility to ensure the use of safe work equipment and safe systems of work for themselves and others.


Furthermore, RICS Regulated Firms must ensure they provide:

  • A safe working environment

  • Safe work equipment

  • Safe systems of work

  • Competent staff


What is the Health & Safety Act 1974?


This is the key UK legislation relating to health & safety. It is underpinned by various specific regulations.


The Health & Safety Act 1974 places a duty on employers to ensure that that health, safety and wellbeing of employees and other affected persons is not at risk, so far as is reasonably practicable. This includes providing and maintaining equipment, safe systems of work and safe premises.


A key aspect of the Act is that a director or senior manager commits an offence if the company’s breach was committed with their consent, connivance or neglect. 


Breaching the Act is a criminal offence, which can carry an unlimited fine, plus imprisonment up to 2 years. Furthermore, corporate and gross negligence (manslaughter) charges can lead to more severe custodial sentences, whilst directors can be disqualified from acting as a director for up to 15 years.


What are the corporate requirements?


  • Appropriate line management structure to monitor and manage health & safety, i.e. lead from the top with a policy statement

  • Clear accountability, policies and procedures

  • Risk assessment

  • Staff training

  • Adequate resources providedInsurance in place

  • In the event of an accident/incident, a firm must determine the root course and take action to avoid a recurrence, with learning points passed on to key stakeholders

  • Firms must take account of time pressures, distractions/interruptions, fatigue, inexperience/lack of knowledge, complacency


What should company policy and procedures include?


  • Providing a safe place of work relating to ventilation, heating, lighting and welfare facilities etc.

  • Minimising risks relating to monitors and workstations

  • Providing personal Protective Equipment (PPE), e.g. helmets, steel capped shoes, ear defenders, face masks, overalls, torches & batteries

  • Manual handling

  • First aid

  • Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995

  • Safe electrical systems

  • Hazardous substances

  • Asbestos

  • Fire risk assessment

  • Working hours

  • Health & safety induction

  • Driving

  • Stress

  • Lone working


What is a risk assessment?


This essentially considers how could a plan of action deviates from your expectations. The RICS define it as carefully examining what in your work could cause harm to people, so that you can judge whether or not you have taken enough precautions to prevent harm.


This requires an understanding of hazards and risks:


  • Hazard - something with potential to cause harm

  • Risk - likelihood of harm being realised


The basic procedure to undertake a risk assessment is as follows:


  • Identify hazards

  • Decide who may be harmed and how

  • Evaluate risks and decide on precautions

  • Record findings and implement 

  • Review and update

  • Advise all those affected of the outcome of the assessment and methods of work, or other control measures necessary, to minimise or eliminate risk


You will then need to dynamically assess risk on site. This is because the situation on the day may change so you need to ensure that you continue to assess potential risks prior and during your time on site.


What is the hierarchy of risk control?


Eliminate - redesign activity or substitute substance so hazard is removed, e.g. use a drone to avoid working at height.


Substitute - replace materials used or proposed work process with less hazardous one, e.g. pre-prepared components rather than cutting on site.


Engineering controls - e.g. use work equipment or other measures to prevent falls, separate hazard from operators by enclosing equipment.


Administrative controls - identify and implement procedures to work safely, e.g. reduce need for lone working, ensuring work undertaken in daylight.


PPE - only if the above measures can be used, e.g. emergency alarms where lone working can’t be avoided.


What are my personal responsibilities?


You have a responsibility for your own health & safety, together with that of anyone under your supervision. This could be colleagues, clients or the general public, for example.


You also have a duty to co-operate with your employer's policies and procedures to minimise the health & safety risks to yourself, colleagues and others potentially affected by actions.


This means that you should, for example:


  • Report actual or perceived health & safety breaches in good time

  • Carry out a personal risk assessment and report any perceived, potential or actual risks to your employer

  • Wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

  • Undertake staff training


It is a criminal offence to intentionally or recklessly interfere or misuse anything provided in interests of health & safety - so it is extremely important to take responsibility for your actions and inactions.


What is Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)?


PPE is equipment to protect against health & safety risks. For example, helmets, steel capped shoes, ear defenders, face  masks, overalls, torches & batteries, safety harnesses and hi vis clothing.


This can protect against the risk of injuries to lungs (inhaling contaminated air), head and feet (falling materials), eyes (air borne particles), skin (from contact with corrosive materials) and the body (from temperature extremes).


PPE should be maintained in good condition by your employer and provided free of charge.


10 ways to ensure your personal safety on site


  1. Take a charged mobile and personal alarm

  2. Plan an escape route

  3. Implement a call back system with office (e.g. a safe word)

  4. Make your daily schedule available to colleagues

  5. Be careful in roof voids and when using ladders

  6. Park your car close by and keep your keys on you

  7. Make sure you know who you are meeting

  8. Follow your gut instinct

  9. Understand the site rules for construction sites

  10. Be aware of aggressive occupants and dogs


10 ways to ensure the safety of your personal property 


  1. Keep your personal property safe and with you at all times

  2. Don't leave possessions on view in your car

  3. Don't leave possessions lying around on site

  4. Register electronic devises with Immobilise

  5. Back up your photos and phone numbers

  6. Keep confidential information safe, e.g. client contact information, bank details

  7. Use a cross-shredder for personal dated no longer needed

  8. Remove shoes when entering a property

  9. Take care of other’s personal items when in confined spaces

  10. Leave accommodation as you found it


What else do I need to consider?


Other key health & safety issues include the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, Legionnaires' disease and the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2015.


What is work-related stress?


Work-related stress relates to adverse reactions that individuals may suffer due to excessive pressures or other types of demand placed on them at work.


Examples include:


  • Demands - this includes issues such as workload, work patterns and the work environment

  • Control - how much say the person has in the way they do their work

  • Support - this includes the encouragement, sponsorship and resources provided by the RICS- regulated firm, line management and colleagues

  • Relationships - this includes promoting positive working to avoid conflict and dealing with unacceptable behaviour

  • Role - whether people understand their role within the RICS-regulated firm and whether the firm ensures that they do not have conflicting roles

  • Change - how organisational change (large or small) is managed and communicated in the RICS-regulated firm


How can we help?

  • Head to our blog archive to access even more free CPD and AssocRICS and RICS APC training and support.

  • Download your free AssocRICS and RICS APC resources, including e-books and revision quizzes.

  • Find out more about our bespoke AssocRICS and RICS APC training and support, before booking your free 15 minute consultation and signing up for your services online.

  • Not sure about signing up? Make sure you read what our recent successful candidates have to say in our Testimonials.


Stay tuned for our next blog post to help build a better you


N.b. Nothing in this article constitutes legal or financial advice.