Safety

Table of Contents

4.0 Introduction

4.0.1 Background

Safety has been defined by the International Standards Organisation as ‘a state of freedom from unacceptable risks of personal harm’. This recognises that no activity is absolutely safe or free from risk. No building can be absolutely safe and some risk of harm to users may exist in every building. Building standards seek to limit risk to an acceptable level by identifying hazards in and around buildings that can be addressed through the Building (Scotland) Regulations.

Deaths and serious injury to people in and around buildings occur in significant numbers from accidents involving falls, collisions, entrapment, scalding, electrocution or malfunction of fittings. Designers need to consider all aspects of design carefully to minimise risks inherent in any building.

Not all issues relating to good practice are covered in this Technical Handbook. Publications by organisations including the Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) http://www.rospa.com/ may offer further information relevant to the safety of occupants of, and visitors to, buildings.

Accessibility - buildings should be designed to consider safety and the welfare and convenience of building users. An inclusive environment is one within which everyone, regardless of age, disability or circumstance, can make use of facilities safely, conveniently and without assistance to the best of their ability. Buildings that consider future flexibility of use also contribute to the creation of a more sustainable housing stock, simplifying alterations. This can allow people to remain longer in their home, through changing circumstances, with the minimum of disruption and inconvenience.

The guidance in this section, together with the guidance in Section 3, Environment relating to accessibility, has been based around, and developed from, issues that are included in ‘Housing for Varying Needs’ and the Lifetime Homes concept developed by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

Access statements - many designers and developers are familiar with the use of an access statement as a means of assisting in the delivery of more inclusive buildings. This records how access issues have been considered and developed from project inception, through all stages of development, through to the final use of a building.

Where design proposals vary from guidance within this Handbook or, in the case of a conversion where a standard is to be met as far as is reasonably practicable, relevant information extracted from a project access statement may assist in determining compliance.

Security - a dwelling that is safe and secure provides a positive contribution to the quality of life of its occupants and contributes to the delivery of a more sustainable community. Introducing basic measures to improve security can make unlawful entry into dwellings physically more difficult and ensure the safety and welfare of occupants.

4.0.2 Aims

The intention of this section is to give recommendations for the design of buildings that will ensure access and usability, reduce the risk of accident and unlawful entry. The standards within this section:

  • ensure accessibility to and within buildings and that areas presenting risk through access are correctly guarded, and

  • reduce the incidence of slips, trips and falls, particularly for those users most at risk, and

  • ensure that electrical installations are safe in terms of the hazards likely to arise from defective installations, namely fire and loss of life or injury from electric shock or burns, and

  • prevent the creation of dangerous obstructions, ensure that glazing can be cleaned and operated safely and to reduce the risk of injury caused by collision with glazing, and

  • safely locate hot water and steam vent pipe outlets, and minimise the risk of explosion through malfunction of unvented hot water storage systems and prevent scalding by hot water from sanitary fittings, and

  • ensure the appropriate location and construction of storage tanks for liquefied petroleum gas, and

  • ensure that windows and doors vulnerable to unlawful entry are designed and installed to deter house breaking.

4.0.3 Latest changes

The following is a summary of the changes that have been introduced since 1 October 2015.

  • Standard 4.14 - Introduction of a new standard and supporting guidance covering the provision of in-building physical infrastructure to facilitate the installation of high-speed electronic communications networks.

  • Appendix A - Additional defined terms added. Most of these new terms are as defined within Article 2 of EU Directive 2014/61/EU.

4.0.4 Relevant legislation

Listed below are some pieces of legislation that may be relevant and/or helpful to those using the guidance in this particular section.

The Electricity Safety, Quality and Continuity Regulations 2002 defines the duties of any party supplying electricity to premises with regard to matters such as supply, equipment, protection and provision of earthing.

The Gas Safety (Installations and Use) Regulations 1998 require that any person who installs, services, maintains, removes, or repairs gas fittings must be competent. It covers not only materials, workmanship, safety precautions and testing of gas fittings but also the safe installation of all aspects of gas-fired combustion appliance installations.

4.0.5 Certification

Scottish Ministers can, under Section 7 of the Building (Scotland) Act 2003, approve schemes for the certification of design or construction for compliance with the mandatory functional standards. Such schemes are approved on the basis that the procedures adopted by the scheme will take account of the need to co-ordinate the work of various designers and specialist contractors. Individuals approved to provide certification services under the scheme are assessed to ensure that they have the qualifications, skills and experience required to certify compliance for the work covered by the scope of the scheme. Checking procedures adopted by Approved Certifiers will deliver design or installation reliability in accordance with legislation.

The certification of construction (electrical installations to BS 7671) scheme has been approved by Scottish Ministers to confirm compliance with relevant standards in Section 4. http://www.scotland.gov.uk/topics/built-environment/building/building-standards.