In November 2018, RICS published the Surveying safely: health and safety for property professionals second edition global guidance note.
It first published a document covering the subject in 1991, having begun work on this in April 1989 when it issued a discussion document. It was an initiative of the RICS Building Surveying Division, as was, and grew out of surveyors' need to be aware of the risks they faced when visiting properties. It was a simple and relatively short list of matters, together with a brief description of legal duties.
There was subsequently an entirely redrafted version, followed by a number of iterations in the early 2000s. These editions covered the general requirements of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and focused heavily on keeping safe on site, gradually broadening their remit with each successive publication.
Over the years the RICS Health and Safety Advisory Group has consulted on how best to promote health and safety to the wide group of professionals in its membership. Consultation with industry groups revealed a wish and need to cover more areas and to treat each in greater depth, resulting in the publication of a considerably expanded Surveying safely in 2011, the first edition with guidance note status.
With growing globalisation, there is an increased expectation of common standards, not least in respect of health and safety risk management. Many organisations, both national and international, expect the highest level of compliance across their real-estate portfolios. In light of these global changes and trends, RICS has published a new edition; as the revised name makes clear, it concentrates on principles. All references to UK law have been removed, allowing it to be published as a global guidance note in line with RICS' development as an international professional institution. Thus, wherever RICS has influence across the globe, health and safety standards are steadily improved.
The new edition includes a chapter on fire safety, although necessarily it cannot deal with it at any length, and short chapters on relevance to RICS professional groups and residential property surveying. The latter refers to the RICS Health and safety for residential property managers first edition guidance note, published in January 2016. It also includes some additional material; for example, property visit procedures have been tightened up and chapter 3, on risk, includes a new diagram and an explanation of the risk control hierarchy.
Member organisations expend much money, time and effort on health and safety training, but there is no agreed standardised material for this. The RICS Health and Safety Advisory Group has been working with the training team to develop easily accessible, high-quality training materials that will ensure more consistent information. The group is looking into setting up accredited online health and safety training courses and testing, with the possibility of online examination to pre-qualify APC candidates. All of these will be based on the Surveying safely guidance note.