Keeping You Safe

At Bucks Housing, the Health and Safety of our residents is our highest priority. We have provided some information on the main property related risks, how we manage these, and how you can help us deal with them.

If you have any questions, please contact us on 01494 480340 or info@bucksha.co.uk

Gas

Gas is provided for heating and cooking in many Bucks Housing properties.

What’s the risk?

As well as leaks, gas can contribute to fires and create explosions. Less obvious is the risk caused from carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide is a toxic gas which is odourless, colourless and tasteless. If it is not adequately ventilated, it can prevent the body from absorbing oxygen and cause death. It can escape from appliances like boilers and fires if they are not working properly or if a chimney or flue is blocked.

How do we manage the risk?

We inspect all gas systems annually and ensure that all gas appliances under our responsibility are tested every year too. After these tests we will provide you with a certificate called a CP12 or Landlord’s Gas Safety Record, which you should keep in a safe place.

If we come across any damage or fault with the systems we will carry out the necessary repairs. If we cannot fix the issue straight away, we will always make sure everything is safe before leaving the property.

What should you do about the risk?

  • Make sure you keep your gas safety check appointment, or contact us if you need to rearrange it
  • If you are responsible for the gas appliances in your property, make sure they are routinely serviced
  • Do not attempt any DIY gas fitting or other gas work yourself
  • Make sure that any vents or flues from your property are not blocked or obstructed
  • Use a carbon monoxide detector.

What to do if your carbon monoxide detector goes off and/or you suspect a gas leak

For your additional safety, we have provided a carbon monoxide (CO) detector, which will give a warning if an appliance is producing carbon monoxide.  In the unlikely event that the alarm sounds, you should follow the instructions below:

  1. Open all the windows – the first step is to ventilate the flat as much as possible.  If there has been a leak, the aim is to clear the deadly gas as quick as you can.
  2. Turn off all fuel-burning appliances and leave the property – make sure the hobs, oven and heating are all switched off – grab a coat and wait outside.  Even if you feel completely fine, it’s better to be safe than sorry, and sometimes it’s hard to notice symptoms until it’s too late.
  3. Ring the National Gas Emergency Service on 0800 111 999.
  4. Do not smoke and do not turn on the lights or strike a match – if your property has any gas appliances, there’s the possibility of a leak. This means it is important to avoid doing anything that could spark of catch fire. Once the alarm has sounded don’t switch on any lights or strike a match. If it is the middle of the night, use a torch or the torch on your phone to find your way out.
  5. Seek medical advice – if you or any of your family feel unwell (see symptoms below), contact a doctor immediately or call 999 for an ambulance, because it could be the onset of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  6. Report the incident to Bucks HA in the normal way – we will send round an engineer to check your appliances and make sure they are safe.  They will also check the CO detector to see that it is working correctly.

Carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms

The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning aren’t always obvious, particularly during low-level exposure.  They include:

  • a tension-type headache
  • dizziness, nausea (feeling sick) and vomiting
  • tiredness and confusion
  • stomach pain
  • shortness of breath
  • difficulty breathing.

The symptoms of exposure to low levels of carbon monoxide can be similar to those of food poisoning and flu.  But unlike flu, carbon monoxide poisoning doesn’t cause a high temperature (fever).  The symptoms can gradually get worse with prolonged exposure to carbon monoxide, leading to a delay in diagnosis. The longer you inhale the gas, the worse your symptoms will be. You may lose balance, vision and memory and, eventually, you may lose consciousness. This can happen within two hours if there’s a lot of carbon monoxide in the air.

Electricity

We are responsible for ensuring the safety of fixed electrical installations in your home and in communal areas.  

What’s the risk?

Faulty electrical supplies can cause serious injury or death. Damaged or faulty equipment can lead to electrical shocks, fires and explosions.

How do we manage this risk?

We have an ongoing programme of five yearly checks of electrical installations. If we spot any damaged or faulty systems, we will carry out required repairs. In every case, our electricians will always make sure the electrical supply to the property and installations  are safe before they leave the property.

What should you do about the risk?

Please do not carry out your own electrical repairs. If you identify an electrical fault, either in your property, or in a communal area, please report this to us straight away in the normal way.

You are responsible for maintaining portable electrical items within your home. If you think any electrical items in your home are damaged, then you should stop using them and contact a professional electrician for advice. Do not dismantle them yourself.

You should also follow these simple rules:

  • Do not overload your electrical sockets
  • Only use electrical equipment for its intended purpose (e.g. you should not use a hair dryer to defrost a freezer)
  • Do not store flammable or hazardous materials near electrical outlets, or otherwise clutter them
  • Do not allow water, damp or moisture near to electrical outlets
  • Do not leave working electrical appliances, such as the oven or iron, unsupervised.

Fire

This section deals with fire safety and the potential for uncontrolled fire and smoke within our properties.

How do we manage the risk?

We carry out regular assessments of fire risks to decrease the chances of fires starting in communal areas and to make sure that precautions are in place to guarantee residents’ safety if there is a fire. These include fire-resistant walls and ceilings, fire and smoke-resistant doors and smoke detectors and alarms. It is our responsibility to maintain and, when necessary, repair these controls.

What should you do about the risk?

If you live in a block of flats, you should always know the fire safety plan for your building, where applicable, and what actions to take if there is a fire in your home or anywhere in the building.

Most importantly, you must ensure that you do not cause a fire:

  • Never leave burning candles unattended.
  • If you smoke, only do so in designated areas. If you smoke in your property, make sure you dispose of smoking materials safely, and never smoke in bed.
  • When cooking, keep an eye on any hot surfaces or flames. Chip pans are particularly dangerous. If possible use a deep fat fryer.
  • NEVER put water on a chip pan or oil fire, it will explode and cause a serious fire. Instead turn off the cooker and cover the pan with a damp tea towel.
  • Never put water on an electrical fire as this could result in a fatal electric shock.
  • If any electrical items are faulty do not use them.
  • Keep fire doors closed and not wedged open.

We install smoke alarms in all of our properties but where these are battery-operated, it is your responsibility to ensure that the batteries are changed regularly.

If you think there is a fault with a fire door, or a problem with fire precautions in communal areas, please let us know by reporting this in the normal way.

Asbestos

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral which was used in the building industry in over 3,000 products. Materials containing asbestos were installed in many homes across the UK up to the end of 1999. Properties constructed since 2000 should be asbestos free.

What’s the risk?

Breathing asbestos fibres can cause respiratory problems and can lead to death. However, if asbestos containing materials are in a good condition and not abrasively disturbed then there are no health risks. If you encounter damaged asbestos, this does not mean you have been exposed to levels that may cause you harm.

How do we manage the risk?

To ensure that we understand where asbestos is located within our properties, we have a programme to carry out asbestos management surveys to all properties built prior to 2000. These inspections are being undertaken by appointed asbestos specialists and the programme will have been completed by the end of 2020. Until a property has been surveyed, as a precautionary measure, we will assume that asbestos exists.

It is our policy to leave asbestos in place, as long as it is in a good condition and is unlikely to be disturbed during normal occupancy. We will remove all high-risk asbestos containing materials and any material that may become damaged during planned works. All asbestos removal works will be carried out by approved asbestos contractors. We will review all asbestos containing materials within our communal areas annually.

What should you do about the risk?

Please provide access, if requested, to enable a property inspection to take place.

If you are planning any DIY which involves drilling, cutting or sanding materials in any of the locations mentioned, or if you are in any doubt, please contact us.

You must contact us if you are planning to carry out work that affects the internal layout or structure of the property – both to obtain our permission and to find out whether the work is likely to disturb any asbestos containing materials. If we do not hold the required asbestos information, we will instruct one of our asbestos consultants to visit your home and collect the information required.

You can view our Asbestos Policy here.

Water Safety

What’s the risk?

Legionnaires’ disease is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia, caused by Legionella bacteria. Legionnaires’ disease comes from breathing in bacteria contained in small droplets of water, like spray from a shower or taps. It isn’t spread directly from person to person, and you can’t get it from drinking water.

On average, there are approximately 600 reported cases of Legionnaires’ disease each year in the UK. Anyone can catch it, but most susceptible are those over 45 years old; those with a weak immune system; people with diabetes; people who smoke or those with an alcohol dependency.

Legionella can multiply in stagnant water held in tanks, water heaters and pipes. The bacteria won’t multiply in temperatures below 20°C and can’t survive above 60°C. Stagnant water stored between 20°C and 50°C provides the best breeding conditions.

How do we manage the risk?

Bucks Housing will ensure that properties are properly risk assessed and, where necessary, will take remedial action to eliminate or minimise the risk.

In the case of empty properties, we will remove the shower head and hose and disinfect or replace it. Where the property has been empty for longer than two weeks, we will flush the system through completely prior to new tenants moving in.

We will provide information to both new and existing tenants on water safety.

What should you do about the risk?

You can help to keep bacteria numbers low and prevent disease in the following ways:

  • Flush systems on return from holidays or absence from the property for seven days or more
  • Descale your taps and shower heads at least every three months, using a household descaling product
  • Make sure taps that are not regularly used, such as outside taps, are flushed regularly
  • Keep hot water in tanks and cylinders at a minimum of 60°C
  • Water from hot taps should be at a minimum temperature of 50°C, but please be aware of the risk of scalding
  • Report any concerns about low hot water temperatures, low water flow, defective taps, boiler issues or any debris / rust flowing from your taps to our Maintenance Team on 01494 480340.