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Housing Health and Safety Rating System: the hazards

Set out below is a list of all the hazards under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System, a brief description of each hazard and examples of ways to minimise the hazard and the standard a dwelling should ideally meet.

This is not an exhaustive list of examples. There may be other works necessary and the list should be used as a guide only.

Damp and mould growth

Description: this hazard is the threat to health associated with the increased prevalence of house dust mites and mould and fungal growths resulting from dampness and/or high humidity in a dwelling.

Ideal standard of property to minimise hazard:

  • A warm, dry and well ventilated property
  • Property free from rising, penetrating and traumatic dampness, mould growth and condensation.
  • An indoor relative humidity of between 40% - 60%.
  • All water-using facilities such as showers, baths or basins properly installed to prevent or minimise splashing and all properly connected to drainage system.
  • Rain water goods and gutters in good repair.
  • Mechanical extraction for cooking, bathing and clothes drying
  • Adequate thermal insulation and heating

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Excess cold

Description: this hazard is the threat to health associated with sub-optimal indoor temperatures.

Ideal standard of property to minimise hazard:

  • Adequate structural thermal insulation, loft insulation
  • Adequate, efficient and controllable heating, ideally central heating
  • Background ventilation without draughts or heat loss
  • Houses in Multiple Occupation should have controllable heating within each let

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Excess heat

Description: the threat to health from excessively high indoor air temperatures.

Ideal standard of property to minimise the hazard:

  • Sufficient thermal insulation
  • Shielding from solar gain
  • Adequate ventilation and means of cooling
  • Controllable heating

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Asbestos and MMF

Description: the threat to health from the presence of, and exposure to, asbestos fibres and Manufactured Mineral Fibres (MMF) in dwellings.

Ideal standard of property to minimise the hazard:

  • Total absence of asbestos.
  • If asbestos present should be in good condition, sealed in and unlikely to be disturbed
  • MMF’s in good condition.

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Biocides

Description: the threat to health from those chemicals used to treat timber and mould growth in dwellings (does not include insecticides and rodenticides)

Ideal standard of property to minimise the hazard:

  • Avoid use
  • Prevent dampness and need for use.
  • Usage in accordance with instructions

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Carbon Monoxide and fuel combustion products

Description: the threat to health from excess levels of carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and smoke from the combustion of gas, oil and solid fuels used for cooking and heating.

Ideal standard of property to minimise the hazard:

  • Correctly maintained and installed gas, oil and solid fuel burning appliances.
  • Compliance with Gas Safety Regulations.
  • Adequate air for combustion
  • Adequate ventilation
  • Appropriate siting of flue and appliance
  • Flues checked
  • Ventilated lobby if garage integrated into dwelling
  • Appropriately sited carbon monoxide detectors

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Lead

Description: the threat to health from the ingestion or inhalation of lead.

Ideal standard of property to minimise the hazard:

  • No lead paint present
  • No lead water pipe
  • Undamaged lead paint, painted over
  • Damaged lead paint removed with suitable precautions

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Radiation

Description: the threat to health from radon gas, primarily airborne radon but also from radon dissolved in water.

Ideal standard of property to minimise the hazard:

  • New dwellings should have radon protective measures built in.
  • For existing dwellings in radon Affected Areas remedial measures should be adopted.
  • Radon levels below 100 Bq/m3 and should not exceed 200 Bq/m3.

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Un-combusted fuel gas

Description: the threat to health from asphyxiation resulting from the escape of fuel gas in a dwelling. (Please note that this does not include poisoning by carbon monoxide etc or explosions from gas leakages, these are covered by carbon monoxide and fuel combustion products and explosions, respectively)

Ideal standard of property to minimise the hazard:

  • Use of an Authorised Gas Supplier
  • Standard Gas composition and pressure
  • Appropriate installation to meet the required regulations
  • Regular servicing, safety checks and maintenance
  • LPG – low level ventilation to prevent gas from collecting at floor level
  • Gas detectors depending on the type of fuel

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Volatile Organic Compounds

Description: the threat to health from Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), a group of organic chemicals that includes formaldehyde, that are gaseous at room temperature and found in a variety of materials within the home eg chipboard, plywood, paints, solvents, cleaning products and wall and floor coverings.

Ideal standard of property to minimise the hazard:

  • Low emission materials should be used
  • Adequate and appropriate ventilation when using products containing VOCs

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Crowding and space

Description: the threat to health associated with lack of space within a dwelling for living, sleeping and normal family or household life

Ideal standard of property to minimise the hazard:

  • Sufficient space for the separation of household activities.
  • Separate bedrooms for adolescents of the opposite sex
  • Shared areas.
  • Private areas.
  • Play areas.

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Entry by intruders

Description: the threat to health associated with trying to keep a dwelling secure against unauthorised entry and the maintenance of defensible space

Ideal standard of property to minimise the hazard:

  • Dwelling capable of being secured against unauthorised entry, eg suitably constructed locking doors and windows, door chains, a burglar alarm etc.

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Lighting

Description: the threat to physical and mental health associated with inadequate natural and / or artificial light. It includes the psychological effect associated with the lack of any sort of view from the dwelling through glazing.

Ideal standard of property to minimise the hazard:

  • The layout should provide access to sunlight in living rooms, kitchens and recreational areas.
  • Sufficient natural light to perform domestic tasks.
  • Correct positioning and level of artificial light.
  • View of open space from windows.

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Noise

Description: the threat to physical and mental health resulting from exposure to noise inside the dwelling or within its cartilage.

Ideal standard of property to minimise the hazard:

  • Sufficient noise insulation to comply with Building Regulations requirements (Document E).
  • Adequate sound insulation from external ambient noise eg roads, airport, factories etc.
  • Suitable construction or conversion of a dwelling.
  • Suitable siting, installation and condition of plumbing to minimise noise.

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Domestic hygiene, pests and refuse

Description: the threat to health resulting from poor design, layout and construction such that the dwelling cannot be readily kept clean and hygienic. Access into, and harbourage within the dwelling for pests, and inadequate and unhygienic provision for storing and disposal of household waste.

Ideal standard of property to minimise the hazard:

  • Design and construction should reduce access of pests. Harbourage discouraged.
  • Design construction and maintenance of dwelling should allow it to be kept clean, preventing build up of dirt and dust.
  • Suitable and sufficient provision for the storage of refuse awaiting disposal, internally and externally.

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Food safety

Description: the threat of infection resulting from inadequacies in provision and facilities for the storage, preparation and cooking of food.

Ideal standard of property to minimise the hazard:

  • Adequate facilities for the storage of food.
  • Adequate space for refrigerators and freezers.
  • Suitable provision of work surfaces, sinks, drainers etc
  • Adequate facilities for the cooking of food.

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Personal hygiene, sanitation and drainage

Description: the threat of infection and threat to mental health associated with personal hygiene, including personal washing and clothes washing facilities, sanitation and drainage.

Ideal standard of property to minimise the hazard:

  • A sufficient number of adequately sited, properly fitted and maintained wash hand basins, baths and showers.
  • Sufficient clothes washing and drying facilities.
  • Adequate drainage that discharges effectively.

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Water supply

Description: the threat to health from the quality and adequacy of the supply of water within the dwelling for drinking and for domestic purposes such as cooking, washing, cleaning and sanitation. As well as the adequacy, it includes threats to health from contamination by bacteria, protozoa, parasites, viruses and chemical pollutants. (Contamination by lead and radon are dealt with separately).

Ideal standard of property to minimise the hazard:

  • A wholesome drinking water supply.
  • An uninterrupted supply in dwellings.
  • Adequate pressure for both hot and cold water
  • Hot water stored at greater than 60°C

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Falls associated with baths etc

Description: the threat to health from any fall associated with a bath, shower or similar facility.

Ideal standard of property to minimise the hazard:

  • Baths and showers should be stable, secure, have non-slip safety features, grab rails etc.
  • Facilities should be sited in an adequately sized room.

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Falling on level surfaces etc

Description: the threat to health from falling on any level surface such as floors, yards and paths. It also includes falls associated with trip steps, thresholds or ramps, where the change in level is less than 300mm.

Ideal standard of property to minimise the hazard:

  • Proper design, construction and maintenance of floors, yards, steps or paths to minimise any trip hazards.

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Falling on stairs etc

Description: the threat to health from any fall associated with stairs, steps and ramps where the change in level is more than 300mm. Including internal stairs or ramps, external steps or ramps, and those giving common access to a dwelling. It also includes falls over guarding (balustrade) associated with stairs, steps and ramps.

Ideal standard of property to minimise the hazard:

  • Proper design, construction and maintenance of stairs, steps and ramps.
  • Stairs constructed to the requirements of the Building Regulations Document K
  • Handrails to staircases and steps
  • Suitable stair coverings
  • Non slip covering to stairs and steps
  • Consistent rise and going on staircases.
  • Suitable balustrade and guarding to staircases and steps

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Falling between levels etc

Description: the threat to health associated with falls from one level to another, inside or outside the dwelling, where the difference in levels is more than 300mm. It includes falls out of windows, falls from balconies and landings, falls from accessible roofs, into basement wells and over garden retaining walls.

Ideal standard of property to minimise the hazard:

  • Compliance with the Building Regulations Docs L & K (includes sill heights and window positioning)
  • Safety catches / window opening limiters on windows above ground floor level
  • Guarding or balustrade to balconies and landings, with no openings larger than 100mm.

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Electrical hazards

Description: the threat to health from shock and burns resulting from exposure to electricity, including from lightning strikes. It does not include risks associated with fire caused by deficiencies to the electrical installations, such as ignition of material by a short circuit.

Ideal standard of property to minimise the hazard:

  • Compliance with current IEE Regulations.
  • The use of Residual Current Devices RCDs
  • No electrical sockets in a bathroom
  • A Lighting Protection System (LPS) fitted to dwellings in exposed locations.

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Fire

Description: the threat from exposure to uncontrolled fire and associated smoke in a dwelling. It includes injuries from clothing catching alight from exposure to an uncontrolled fire, common when people attempt to extinguish a fire, but does not include injuries caused by clothing catching alight from a controlled fire or flame, which may be caused by reaching across a gas flame or an open fire used for space heating.

Ideal standard of property to minimise the hazard:

  • Fitted appliances and equipment which present a possible source of ignition to be safely maintained and installed
  • Dwelling constructed of fire and smoke resistant materials to prevent the spread of fire
  • Sufficient, appropriately sited electrical sockets
  • Fire alarm, smoke detectors and heat detectors present and working correctly.
  • Adequate means of escape from the dwelling in case of fire.
  • Compliance with Building Regulation. Approved Document B, and British Standards BS5588, Code of Practice 5839, and BS5446. 
  • There is more information about the relevant requirements on our fire safety page.

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Flames and hot surfaces

Description: the threat of burn injuries caused by contact with a hot flame or fire, hot objects or hot, non-water based liquids and scald injuries caused by contact with hot liquids and vapours.

Ideal standard of property to minimise the hazard:

  • Adequate guarding of open flames on space and water heating appliances
  • Exposed pipe work and radiator surface temperature limited to 43 degrees
  • Thermostatic mixer valves fitted to baths
  • Bath hot water supply limited to 44 to 46 degrees
  • Good kitchen layout and design with adequate space to allow movement through the kitchen.

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Collision and entrapment

Description: the threat to health of physical injury from trapping body parts for example trapping fingers in doors and windows, and colliding with objects such as windows, doors, low ceilings and walls.

Ideal standard of property to minimise the hazard:

  • Window opening lights should not protrude over pathways, or obstruct the passage of those using the paths
  • Suitable repair and maintenance of doors and windows, with particular attention paid to sash cords and self closers etc.
  • Safety glazing provided in doors and windows in vulnerable locations
  • For further information see Building Regulations Approved Document K, Approved Document N, British Standard BS 8213: Part 1, and BS6262: Part 4.

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Explosions

Description: the threat to health from the blast of an explosion, from debris generated by the blast, and from the partial or total collapse of a building as the result of an explosion.

Ideal standard of property to minimise the hazard:

  • Gas supplied by an Authorised supplier at a standard pressure and standard composition
  • Appropriate, properly designed and installed gas pressure regulator, meter and pipework.
  • Regular Gas Safety check of installation and appliances by a CORGI registered installer
  • Adequate low level ventilation where LPG used and appropriate siting of storage tank.
  • Correct installation and maintenance of the hot water system.

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Position and operability of amenities

Description: the threat to health of physical strain associated with functional space and other features at the dwelling.

Ideal standard of property to minimise the hazard:

  • Appropriate, safe and convenient layout the dwelling in particular the kitchen and bathroom
  • Basins, sinks, worktops, baths and showers etc should be located at an appropriate height
  • Window catches readily accessible without the need to strain
  • Cupboards and shelves sited so as to be readily accessible but without causing a collision hazard.

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Structural collapse and falling elements

Description: the threat to health of a whole building collapse, or an element or a part of the fabric being displaced or falling because of inadequate fixing, disrepair or adverse weather conditions.

Ideal standard of property to minimise the hazard:

  • Foundations, walls, floors, ceilings and stairs to be designed, constructed and maintained to be of sufficient strength to support the weight of the building and its fittings and furnishings
  • Internal and external fittings and fixtures should be securely fixed and in good repair.
  • Well maintained and secure roof coverings
  • Well maintained and structurally sound chimney stack and securely fitted chimney pots
  • Fixtures and fittings (such as electric lights, kitchen wall cupboards, showers etc) should be properly and securely fixed.

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