New regulations announced for smoke and CO alarms in social housing

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities published a press release on 23rd November 2021 detailing changes to the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015. These new regulations for smoke and CO alarms will improve safety standards in social housing for many people in England. This will bring them more in line with what is expected from private landlords.

What are the new regulations for smoke and CO alarms in social housing?

Smoke alarms have been mandatory in private rented accommodation since 2015, but rules for social housing have remained less clear. Now, under new regulations announced this week, social housing providers will have to adhere to the following rules:

  • All social housing must have a smoke alarm fitted
  • Any rented home including social housing must have a carbon monoxide detector fitted if the property has a fixed appliance like a gas boiler or gas fire
  • If a smoke or carbon monoxide alarm is reported as faulty, landlords or housing providers must fix or replace it as soon as possible

Further details will follow on where the alarms should be fitted and any relevant alarm standards that must be adhered to.

new regulations for co alarm and gas boilers
Any rented home with a gas boiler will have to have a carbon monoxide alarm installed

Greater consistency for safety in the rental sector

Around 60 people die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning in England and Wales and many more from house fires. It is hoped these regulations will help to drive-up standards in social housing. Eddie Hughes, MP for Rough Sleeping and Housing said ‘I’m proud that the new rules being proposed will ensure even more homes are fitted with life-saving alarms. Whether you own your home, are privately renting or in social housing – everyone deserves to feel safe and this is an incredibly important step in protecting those at risk.’

Carbon Monoxide Alarm
Carbon monoxide alarms will be mandatory in social housing with a fixed appliance

The National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) welcomes these changes and believes many people will be safer in their homes as a result. Jim Bywater, NFCC said ‘The new regulations will contribute to reducing fire and carbon monoxide casualties and fatalities and bring consistency and greater protection to those living in both private and social rented homes.’

The news comes during Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week and has been celebrated by the All-Party Parliamentary Carbon Monoxide Group (APPCOG). After conducting research studies into CO poisoning and poverty in the UK, they have been campaigning for change for a number of years. Safelincs attended the launch event for the APPCOG CO Awareness Week and are proud to support this event each year. Safelincs have also been working with the NFCC to create a free assessment tool to improve fire safety in homes across the UK.

Are you concerned about fire safety at home?

If you are worried about fire safety in your home or someone else’s home, why not complete our Online Home Fire Safety Check? Get tips and advice on how to reduce fire risks.

online home fire safety check screen
Online Home Fire Safety Check

Mel Saunders

Marketing Designer

Mel joined our team at the start of 2020. She creates our marketing materials and manages our social media accounts.

Tips to prevent the spread of germs in the workplace this winter

With winter approaching, the prevalence of viruses such as common colds, flu and coronavirus will increase. Poorly ventilated workplaces can be a hotspot for the spread of germs, leading to staff illness and sickness absence. In 2020 according to the Office of National Statistics Sickness Absence Report, 118.6 million working days were lost in the UK due to sickness or injury. With many of us returning to work this year, the spread of germs in the workplace could cause a headache for many employers and employees.

How do germs spread?

What can be done to prevent and control infection in the workplace?

germs on door handles
Germs can spread on common touchpoints like door handles

How do germs spread?

In order for germs to spread, there needs to be three factors:

  1. A source of infection
  2. A susceptible person to be infected
  3. Transmission from the source to the susceptible person

By removing just one of these factors, germs will be prevented from spreading and infection can be kept under control.

What conditions encourage the spread of germs?

Transmission of germs depends on the type of virus. Here, we will concentrate on airborne diseases that are most commonly transmitted from one person to another via small droplets. These infected droplets are expelled when someone who is infected coughs, sneezes, talks or laughs. The infectious droplets can travel through the air and can attach themselves to surfaces.

Stale air that is not well ventilated can encourage diseases to spread. By opening a door or window, fresh air can replace stale air that contains the virus droplets.

What are the common sources of infection?

Common sources of infection in the workplace include surfaces that are regularly touched by anyone using your building. For example, door handles, push plates and light switches are common areas for transmission.

What infection control measures can I introduce to improve ventilation and prevent the spread of germs?

There are a number of easy infection control solutions that can be implemented to reduce the risk of germs spreading. Some of the best tips to incorporate into your germ control procedures are:

  • Encourage everyone to wash their hands regularly. Install ‘wash your hands’ signs to help remind employees and members of the public to maintain good hand hygiene.
  • Encourage everyone to cough or sneeze into a handkerchief or into their elbow.
  • Regularly clean contact surfaces within the workplace.
  • Minimise the number of contact surfaces in the workplace.
  • Open windows and doors where possible to improve ventilation.
Hold open fire doors
Dorgard holds open door to stop germs spreading

How can I improve ventilation in a building with fire doors?

Fire doors, whilst a necessary part of the fire safety infrastructure in most workplaces, can be problematic when it comes to infection control. The UK Government guidance on ventilation outlines that ‘Any actions to improve ventilation should not compromise other aspects of safety and security (for example, avoid propping open fire doors)’. Using a fire door retainer such as Dorgard allows fire doors to be held open safely, improving ventilation without compromising fire safety. When the fire alarms sounds, a Dorgard Fire Door Retainer will release the fire door so that it closes, preventing the spread of fire.

What can I do to reduce the number of contact surfaces?

Door handles and door push plates are likely to be common sources of infection in most workplaces. Keeping doors open means that nobody needs to touch the push plate or door handle to gain access. This eliminates the contact surface and therefore the source of infection. Always ensure that fire doors are held open legally and safely using a fire door retainer such as Dorgard.

reduce the spread of germs
Holding fire doors open safely can reduce the spread of germs

Foot operated door openers can also be a useful way of minimising contact surfaces. These are particularly useful for toilet doors that usually need to remain shut. Foot door openers are cheap and easy to install and allow staff to open the door using their foot rather than touching a handle or push plate.

open door with foot
Foot operated door openers can reduce touch points in buildings

Act now to protect your workforce this winter

Limiting the spread of germs in the workplace throughout the winter is more important than ever following the return to work for many employees in 2021. Making these small changes in your workplace as part of your infection control policy could go a long way to reducing sickness amongst the workforce. Contact Safelincs on 0800 612 6537 or email support@safelincs.co.uk for further help and advice on controlling infection in the workplace.

Mel Saunders

Marketing Designer

Mel joined our team at the start of 2020. She creates our marketing materials and manages our social media accounts.

P50: The Eco-friendly Fire Extinguisher

Not only will the P50 Service-Free Fire Extinguisher save you money, it is also an eco-friendly choice. With a low-carbon manufacturing process, long-lasting design and fully recyclable construction, P50 Fire Extinguishers are a great option if you are looking to reduce your carbon footprint. Carbon emissions are reduced even further as there are no engineer visits required to your site.

Eco-friendly manufacturing

P50 Fire Extinguishers are energy efficient to manufacture. Unlike traditional fire extinguishers that are made of steel, P50s are made from granules of plastic. These are formed into a cylinder shape using blow moulding. This is a low-energy, clean and eco-friendly manufacturing process. It produces zero wastage as any off-cuts of plastic are turned back into granules and re-used.

P50 eco-friendly extinguishers are made in the UK at Britannia Fire’s factory in Norfolk. By buying a fire extinguisher that is manufactured in the UK, you are reducing the number of miles the product has travelled to reach your premises. This in turn, reduces your carbon footprint and contributes to lowering your environmental impact.

eco fire extinguishers
P50 Extinguishers can contribute to your green initiatives

Long-lasting design vs traditional steel extinguishers

The construction of P50 Fire Extinguishers is unlike anything else on the market. Because of the materials used and the quality of assembly, the chemicals in P50 extinguishers last 10 years without requiring a refill. This compares favourably to the usual 5 years for a traditional steel extinguisher. Not only do they last twice as long, P50 extinguishers can also be refilled by the manufacturer after 10 years for an extra 10 years of service. Meaning that one unit can last for 20 years! The unit is then recyclable at the end of its useable life.

P50 extinguishers do not suffer corrosion like many traditional extinguishers and are UV treated to withstand the long-term effects of exposure to sunlight. This makes them completely weather resistant and durable, allowing them to be used for a longer period and in harsh conditions. The P50 Extinguishers are also made with marine-grade components. They have extinguishing ingredients that are kinder to watercourses and marine wildlife.

No annual servicing miles by an external contractor

The use of P50 extinguishers further reduces carbon emissions as there is no need for a servicing contractor to travel to you site each year to service the P50s. Each unit simply requires a quick visual check by a member of staff annually. This is fully compliant with fire safety legislation in the UK and is due to the unique construction of the units.

Reduce the number of fire extinguishers

P50 Foam Fire Extinguishers give better coverage than many other foam extinguishers. They are dielectrically tested, meaning that they can be used on live electrical equipment up to 1kV from a 1m distance. It is usual to find a combination of CO2 and water or CO2 and foam extinguishers in many settings. Traditionally, CO2 extinguishers have been used to tackle electrical fires. Foam or water are used for class A (Solid combustibles like wood and paper) or class B (flammable liquids). The P50 Foam Extinguisher can be used to tackle all of these types of fire, making it an ideal substitute for the CO2 and water/foam combination.

Replace CO2 and water extinguishers with one P50 Foam Extinguisher
One P50 Foam Extinguisher can replace a water and CO2 extinguisher combination

Reducing the number of extinguishers at your premises not only reduces cost. It is also a more environmentally friendly way of operating. The environmental benefits of the P50 extinguishers are industry-leading. They can contribute towards wider business goals such as carbon footprint reduction and environmental policy. Coupled with the huge cost saving benefits, businesses and organisations do not have to choose between eco-friendly vs cost. In the case of the P50, you can have the best of both worlds.

Mel Saunders

Marketing Designer

Mel joined our team at the start of 2020. She creates our marketing materials and manages our social media accounts.