Voluntary adoption of new carbon monoxide safety standard recommended for social landlords

Published:  08 September, 2016

Scotland’s social landlords have a good record in preventing fire, gas and carbon monoxide (CO) fatalities and injuries – but could potentially do more to protect residents. This is one of the key conclusions of a new practical health and safety guide published jointly by HouseMark Scotland and River Clyde Homes.

Entitled “Fire, Gas and Carbon Monoxide Safety Regulations: What Scottish social landlords need to know”, the new report brings together guidance on all relevant regulations in one comprehensive document. It reports that there were 29 deaths and around 1,100 injuries recorded as a result of fires in dwellings during 2013/14 compared to 76 deaths and more than 1,500 injuries recorded in 2004/5. Data on CO poisoning is less comprehensive but Health Protection Scotland recorded 54 such incidents between 2002 and 2015.

The report acknowledges that awareness and management of risk related to fire, gas and CO poisoning has improved significantly in recent decades, particularly in the social housing sector. But it goes on to say that, although reported incidents, injuries and fatalities have fallen consistently over the past 30 years, the numbers are still too high.

The report highlights considerable variations in the way fire, gas and CO risks are managed across the industry and calls for a more consistent approach.

In particular, the guide points out that there is no comprehensive requirement on housing association and local authority landlords to install CO alarms in their properties despite this now being a requirement for private sector landlords. It recommends that social landlords should adopt these new CO safety standards on a voluntary basis to avoid them having to be enforced via new regulations.

The report also includes practical case studies from River Clyde Homes on health and safety compliance, from North Lanarkshire Council on gas maintenance access and from Southside Housing Association on fire management. Wheatley Group has also contributed a case study, which outlines the process it has put in place to ensure 100% of its dwellings have a valid gas safety certificate.

Gary Wilson, director of property and business development at River Clyde Homes, said: “Health and safety is an absolute priority for social landlords. As demonstrated by the various case studies included within this report, the sector has a good record in avoiding fire, gas and CO fatalities and injuries. But there is always more that could be done to make additional improvements and to mitigate risks still further.

“Social landlords can show leadership within their communities by effectively communicating to residents the dangers posed by fire, gas and carbon monoxide and how best to manage and mitigate these risks.”