Health and safety: understanding responsibilities

Safety first

12 June 2019

Appropriate management of health and safety is a requirement for all RICS-regulated firms and RICS members, and APC candidates must understand the principles and responsibilities at both a corporate and an individual level

The Health and safety competency must be achieved by all RICS members to Level 2, across all RICS pathways. To achieve Level 1 the competency description states that APC candidates must ‘Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the principles and responsibilities imposed by law, codes of practice and other regulations appropriate to your area of practice’. To achieve Level 2, candidates must ‘Apply evidence of practical application of health and safety issues and the requirements for compliance, in your area of practice’.

When completing the summary of experience at Level 1, candidates are required to have a good knowledge of personal safety both on site and in the office. Good sources of reference are Surveying safely: health and safety principles for property professionals (2nd edition), RICS guidance note and the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, or else the relevant health and safety guidance for your region. Importantly, these sources link to the procedural requirements imposed by law.

Depending on your work specialty, you may have received training in, for example, The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations (CDM) 2015, asbestos awareness or fire safety. You may also have had a site induction, hold a Construction Skills Certification Scheme card, or have knowledge of the process of risk assessment. Candidates should have a clear understanding of how the design, construction and maintenance processes affect employee health and safety, and be familiar with the guidance specific to your area of practice and, wherever possible, link your knowledge to its source, such as CDM 2015.

When completing your summary of experience to achieve Level 2, think about health and safety-related activities that are part of your job, and link these to the examples in the competency description in order to ensure that your work complies with the Level 2 requirement to provide some project- or process-specific real-life examples.

There are several questions to consider.

  • What steps do you take before visiting a site or property?
  • What personal protective equipment do you need and why?
  • Have you had to deal with a specific health and safety situation?
  • Do you review health and safety proposals in tenders?
  • What is your role in relation to responsibility for health and safety, or as defined under legislation such as CDM 2015?
  • Do you hold a formal health and safety qualification?

Once you have completed your summary of experience, you can focus on the final assessment. Health and safety questions will be asked either by 1 of the assessors, or be included in the chairperson’s questions towards the end of the interview. While addressing questions on a technical competency or on your summary of experience, the assessors may see a link to health and safety and choose to explore this. For example, perhaps you have written about inspecting a derelict property, or experiencing project delays due to asbestos being discovered – either of these topics could generate questions on health and safety.

Health and safety is everyone’s responsibility: all members must be able to demonstrate an understanding of both their own and others’ health and safety obligations, and have experience in executing good health and safety practice. Passing the APC is just the 1st stage – the objective is to maintain this level of knowledge and understanding throughout your career.

Susan Hanley FRICS is director of the APC Academy and RICS regional training adviser for Scotland

Further information