Managing the health and safety of a high-rise building presents considerable challenges that are unique to that style of construction. While high-rise flat construction was very common in the 1960s and 1970s, it is still a style of construction that is very popular, not just for affordable living but with student complexes and more modern styles of living such as higher-spec serviced apartments and shared living. This is where high-rise constructions have communal areas such as cafes, games rooms and TV rooms and enjoy services such as laundry, car parking and grab and go breakfasts which are built into the rental price.
But high-rise buildings do still present significant health and safety risks, fundamentally due to their very different design, and here we will look at the three most important.
- Fire procedures
Of course there has been a recent purge on fire procedures in high-rise buildings due to high profile tragedies. The root cause of the issue was external cladding used in the construction of the building which was found to be flammable. While that is a construction issue, residential landlords have been required to re-address all their fire procedures, mainly because high-rise buildings are much more difficult to escape from, particularly in the event of a fire, and the further up a building you live, the higher the risk is.
So a landlord of a high-rise building has a duty to carry out the following tasks:
- A full fire risk assessment of the building
- Establish emergency procedures including alarms, exits and assembly points
- Carry out periodic evacuation drills
- Draw up an exit plan and have this posted visibly on all floors throughout the building
- Ensure there are sufficient fire exit doors
- Ensure there are sufficient fire extinguishers which are routinely checked
- Ensure there is sufficient smoke detection and water sprinkler systems
- Ensure exit routes are not blocked
A unique feature of high-rise buildings is that they do not have gardens and instead, in most cases, residents have an outside balcony, but of course these are significantly high off the ground on all floors other than the ground floor. Balconies in themselves present a considerable fire risk as fire can spread upwards to other floors more quickly than a fire starting internally, so residents have to be warned about what activities they should or shouldn’t undertake on a balcony, for example, barbecues should not be allowed. But the landlord should also warn of the risks of drinking alcohol, children playing or other boisterous behaviour which could result in a person falling over a balcony side. Residents should also be warned that dropping or throwing items off a balcony is a public order offence and could be considered a criminal offence. Needless to say, all balconies should also be fitted with sufficient fencing and guarding in the construction phase.
- Waste disposal
In regular homes we don’t have to think about waste disposal because we simply roll our wheelie bin out on to the street once a week to be collected, however, in a high-rise building this requires an entirely different system. And again, people on higher floors have a much bigger issue. It is important that waste disposal is covered by a practical system that is regularly monitored. Waste that is not disposed of and starts to build up can very quickly become a trip hazard, a fire hazard and a hygiene hazard, so it is important that a robust system is in place that is workable for all residents and that this is audited and acted upon.
Health and safety management of a high-rise building
If you are the landlord of a high-rise building and have concerns over health and safety arrangements, then contact Apardion today. We have professional resources who can help you understand your basic duties and responsibilities and work with you to implement and monitor adequate systems for your building, including full building facilities management. Health and safety compliance is of paramount importance when managing a high-rise building, so make sure you turn to the very best people available and contact Apardion today.