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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
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
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
Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995
Safe electrical systems
Fire risk assessment
Health & safety induction
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:
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.