The common parts of your development stairwells, gardens etc. are also considered workplaces and therefore the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 applies.

Included with in this act are a number of regulations that have to be abided with to ensure the safety of residents, visitors and any tradesperson. As with any act of parliament this allows the relevant authorities to introduce new regulations and to replace or update existing ones.

At first glance this is a confusing area, however if common sense is applied it doesn't have to be, below is a list of the regulations together with an everyday example:

Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH)

A cleaner is employed to regularly clean and mop the tiled stairwell, it is only sensible that they use a cleaning product that isn't going to cause any nasty fumes. A simple case of the cleaner reading the product label. Same could apply to a decorator and paint or a tradesperson using adhesive in a communal area.

The Work at Height Regulations 2007

A window cleaner is employed to clean the windows of a 4 storey block of flats, all working from height should be avoided where possible and another means of cleaning the windows should be looked into such as the reach and wash system where a tradesperson is positioned on the ground using a pole system that distributes clean water to clean the windows and frames. In some cases the use of ladders and step ladders are allowed if used for a short period and the contractor has assessed the risk; if the height is no more than 2 storeys, they are only going to be up the ladder for a short period and the ladder/step ladder is suitable for the job and correctly footed it would therefore in this circumstance be carry out the work.
Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006

An electrician is asked to put a new bulkhead light just inside the communal door on a 3 storey purpose built block of flats constructed in 1982. Fortunately a survey of the building had been done and it highlighted that the artex covering of the ceiling may contain chrysotile asbestos; information therefore was readily available so that the electrician could carry out the work so not to impose any danger on himself, residents or any visitor.

Slips and trips

A resident returns home and slips on the wet communal landing floor and sprains their ankle or goes to put out the rubbish and trip on an uneven paving slab in the communal gardens. These types of accidents are very common and in some cases cannot be avoided however with regular site inspections and ensuring that contractors have suitable "CAUTION WET FLOOR" signage they can be minimised.

Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order 2005

In the very unlikely event that there is a fire in a communal area be it a stairwell or bin area it is important to show that every measure has been taken to prevent the outbreak of a fire. It is illegal to smoke in an enclosed communal area so no smoking signs should be displayed, for a fire to start there must be some combustible material therefore no items should be stored in enclosed communal areas and of course something or someone must start the fire, if the communal door and bin areas are locked then only residents can access these areas and if communal wiring and fixtures are checked as per the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 then any fire authority will note that every precaution has been taken. Of course depending on the size of the building other fire safety measures may have to be considered electric smoke alarms, emergency lighting etc.


Oak House
6 Dorchester End
Essex CO2 8AR

Tel: (01206) 561674