RESIDENTIAL LANDLORDS ASSOCIATION GUIDE TO SAFETY GLAZING
Questions are often raised as to the need to replace glass (in windows or doors) because it may not meet minimum safety requirements. Unfortunately, clear answers cannot be given. This Guide sets out, briefly, the relevant requirements. Key considerations apply in what are called critical locations.
The diagram below defines what critical locations are.
(a) Where you have a glazed door or glazed side panel to the door then it is the area between floor level and 1500mm above. With side panels this applies to those which are within 300mm of either edge of the door.
(b) For windows between floor level and 800mm above (except where there 1500mm rule applies, i.e. to glazing in doors and side panels).
(c) Bathroom areas.
Any glazing for part of a bath or shower screen, or adjacent to or surrounding a bath is in a critical location. Any window located within a distance of 800mm measured from the bottom of a bath or shower is also in a critical location.
Part K of the Building Regulations (or in Wales Part N) require that where you carry out "building work" in a critical location involving glass then safety glazing is required.
Where glazing is installed in a critical location ( where there was none previously) as part of the erection, extension of material alteration of a building, this is 'building work'; so the glazing must be building regulation compliant safety glazing. The replacement of a whole unit, i.e. both the frame and the glazing, is also subject to the building regulation requirement to install safety glazing in a critical location.
However, replacing double glazing whilst retaining an existing frame, e.g. a repair, is not building work. Nevertheless, the supply of glazing may well be subject to consumer protection legislation so that only compliant glass should be supplied and fitted.
Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS)
The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) is an enforcement tool which can be used by local authorities to enforce standards in housing which require improvements to be carried out. Various types of fall are regarded as "hazards" for the purposes of HHSRS. If there is a risk of harm resulting from such a hazard then enforcement action can be taken. The risk of injury through contact with glass is a risk associated with a fall, so enforcement action could be taken where appropriate if the existing gazing is non-compliant.
Health and Safety at Work Legislation
In a serious case there is the potential for a prosecution under either Section 3 or Section 4 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. If this applies (including in the case of common parts on flats or bedsits) the landlord could be prosecuted if there is a risk of harm to tenants and residents or visitors. Where a landlord is employed or self-employed or in control of common parts then there is a duty to conduct his/her undertaking so as not to give rise to the risk of harm to others. This covers individuals replacing glass with safety glazing where appropriate.
If a landlord is an employer or self-employed then he/she is subject to the Work Place Safety Regulations made under Health and Safety legislation. For this purpose a 'work place' does not include "a private dwelling" but is does extend to the common parts of shared buildings such as blocks of flats or bedsits. There is an obligation under the Regulations, where they apply, to ensure a safe place of work and safe means of access. Enforcement action can be taken under Health and Safety at Work legislation in respect of glazing if it is shown to be unsafe; likewise if there is the risk of prosecution under the relevant regulations.
Duty of Care
Due to disrepair if a tenant, resident or visitor is injured or dies then a claim for damages can be pursued. Where the landlord is responsible for the repair or has the right to carry out the repair he/she can be liable under this provision if there is negligence involved.
Likewise, at common law, if it can be demonstrated that the injury results from the landlord's negligence there is also a potential for a civil claim for damages in the event of injuries or death. As the potential danger from non-safety glazing in this location is well recognised and there are relevant British standards in place there is a definite likelihood of a successful claim if someone is injured where safety glass has not been installed.
How to check the visible markings on safety glazing
How do you identify whether the existing glass is safety glazing. Details are set out below regarding visible markings.
What we can advise is this. If you carry out "building work" involving glazing, as defined by the Building Regulations - see above, in a critical location replacement safety glazing must be installed and if there is existing glazing which is being replaced, where this is within the definition of "building work" then safety glazing must be used. This applies in critical locations. There is, however, no duty, even within critical locations, to replace glazing which is not safety glazing other than when you are carrying out building work. Potentially you could be required to do this particularly by a local authority using HHSRS powers or, if the glazing is in the common parts of a building, under Health and Safety at Work legislation. On the other hand if you do fail to replace existing non-safety glazing and an accident occurs there is a real risk that you could be successfully sued if someone is either injured or killed. A serious case could also result in criminal prosecution.
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