HHSRS Risk Assessment Survey Software for Tablets & Phones

The Housing Health and Safety Rating system (HHSRS) affects all owners and landlords, including social landlords. How To Undertake HHSRS Health & Safety Inspections Effectively?

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How To Undertake HHSRS Health & Safety Inspections

Here is some information to help you understand more about HHSRS Risk Assessment inspections, and what software tool will help you carry them out efficiently.

The Need For A Software Tool

The paper-based scoring inspection sheet system devised by the Government is tedious and error-prone. You definitely need a software tool to carry out these Health & Safety inspections effectively.

Clear & Detailed Reports Are Needed

A professional HHSRS report should include an automatic calculation of hazard scores, hazard bands, justifications and defects for all the 29 HHSRS hazards, plus photographic evidence.

The Best Software Solution

This HHSRS survey software and mobile app follows the Government standard, with all the suggested statistics (likelihoods & outcomes) for the type of property, along with detailed checklists of defects (justifications) for each hazard.

Overview To The 29 HHSRS Hazards

1. Damp & Mould Growth

This category covers threats to health associated with increased prevalence of house dust mites and mould or fungal growths resulting from dampness and/or high humilities. It includes threats to mental health and social well being which may be caused by living with the presence of damp, damp staining and/or mould growth.

The indications are that house dust mite populations and indoor mould growth have increased over the last century. This is probably because of reduced ventilation levels, increased humidities, and warmer indoor temperatures in winter months caused by changes in dwelling design and adaptations introduced when houses are renovated.

Vulnerable Group: Children 0 - 14 years

2. Excess Cold

This category covers the threats to health from sub-optimal indoor temperatures.

The percentage rise in deaths in winter is greater in dwellings with low energy efficiency ratings. There is a gradient of risk with age of the property, the risk being greatest in dwellings built before 1850, and lowest in the more energy efficient dwellings built after 1980. Absence of central heating and dissatisfaction with the heating system also show some association with increased risk of excess winter death.

Vulnerable Group: All persons 65 years or over

3. Excess Heat

This category includes threats from excessively high indoor air temperatures.

The major dwelling factors are solar heat gain, ventilation rates, and thermal capacity and insulation of the structure. Smaller, more compact dwellings, and particularly attic flats, are more prone to overheating than are large dwellings.

Vulnerable Group: All persons 65 years or over

4. Asbestos

This category covers the presence of, and exposure to, asbestos fibres and manufactured mineral fibres (MMF) within dwellings.

Asbestos is a natural mineral fibre, which is a particularly effective fire resistant, insulation material. There are three main types of asbestos, chrysotile (white asbestos), and the amphibole forms crocidolite (blue asbestos) and amosite (brown asbestos).

The health risks from asbestos exposure are associated with inhalation. Risks from ingestion and skin contact are minimal.

Vulnerable Group: All ages

5. Biocides

This category covers threats to health from those chemicals used to treat timber and mould growth in dwellings. While biocides include insecticides and rodenticides to control pest infestations (e.g. cockroaches or rats and mice), these are not considered for the purposes of the HHSRS.

Problems only arise where biocides are used incorrectly, or where the dwelling is occupied before the fumes have been allowed to disperse adequately.

Vulnerable Group: All ages

6. Carbon Monoxide and Fuel Combustion Products

This category includes hazards resulting from the presence of excess levels in the atmosphere within the dwelling of Carbon monoxide, Nitrogen dioxide, and Sulphur dioxide and smoke.

The main source of carbon monoxide within dwellings is the incomplete combustion of all fuels containing carbon, including gas, oil, and solid fuels. Gas and oil burning appliances are the main sources of nitrogen dioxide. Sulphur dioxide, which has a noticeable smell, is produced by oil and solid fuel.

Vulnerable Group: Children 0 - 14 years

7. Lead

This covers the threats to health from the ingestion of lead.

The main exposure to lead in UK homes is through the removal of lead based paint on redecoration. Lead was widely used in domestic paint up until the 1960's, and since then restrictions on the use of lead in paint mean that there is likely to be little risk in post-1970 properties.

Vulnerable Group: Children under 3 years

8. Radiation

This category covers the threats to health from radon gas and its daughters, primarily airborne, but also radon dissolved in water.

Natural sources account for 85% of the total exposure to ionising radiation of the UK population, the majority of which is from radon gas in buildings. Radon dissolved in water supplies is only found in significant quantities in private water supplies in areas where there are high levels of radon gas.

Vulnerable Group: All ages

9. Uncombusted Fuel Gas

This category covers the threat of asphyxiation resulting from the escape of fuel gas into the atmosphere within a dwelling.

Note: Poisonings associated with incomplete combustion of gas and the spilling back of combustion products into a dwelling are covered by Carbon Monoxide, and explosions from gas leakages are covered by Explosions.

The most common gas used in dwellings is mains gas (formerly known as natural gas), although there is now an increasing use of liquid petroleum gas (LPG) particularly in isolated and rural areas, and some use of landfill gas. Mains gas is primarily methane and is less dense than air, while LPG is denser than air. Both mains gas and LPG are odorised to have distinctive smells, to alert users to the danger of escaped gas.

Vulnerable Group: All ages

10. Volatile Organic Compounds

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are a diverse group of organic chemicals which includes formaldehyde, that are gaseous at room temperature, and are found in a wide variety of materials in the home.

VOCs, including formaldehyde, produce vapours at room temperatures. Sources typically within the control of building owners include:

Vulnerable Group: All ages

11. Crowding and Space

This category covers hazards associated with lack of space within the dwelling for living, sleeping and normal family/household life.

Deficiencies with space and crowding can increase the risks associated with a number of other hazards. The risk of domestic accidents is greater where there is insufficient space for the occupants. Small kitchens also increase the risk of accidents. Where people and their belongings and furniture are crowded together, it may not be possible to keep circulation space or functional space around appliances clear.

Vulnerable Group: All ages

12. Entry by Intruders

This covers difficulties in keeping a dwelling secure against unauthorised entry and the maintenance of defensible space.

Socio-economic circumstances are related to the risk of burglary and fear of burglary. Fear of burglary is brought about by knowing someone who has been burgled and by publicity about crimes. Whilst elderly people may be more fearful of walking on the streets after dark, they are less anxious about burglary than other age groups.

Vulnerable Group: All ages

13. Lighting

This category covers the threats to physical and mental health associated with inadequate natural and/or artificial light. It includes the psychological effect associated with the view from the dwelling through glazing.

The shape, position and size of windows and the layout of rooms all affect the amount of daylight. Windows, adequate in themselves, can be obstructed externally by other buildings or by trees.

Vulnerable Group: All ages

14. Noise

This category covers threats to physical and mental health resulting from exposure to noise inside the dwelling or within its curtilage.

Noise in the home is a common complaint; a national noise attitude survey found that one in three people said that environmental noise disturbed their home lives to some extent.

Vulnerable Group: All ages

15. Domestic Hygiene, Pests and Refuse

This category covers hazards which can result from: a) poor design, layout and construction such that the dwelling cannot be readily kept clean and hygienic; b) access into, and harbourage within, the dwelling for pests; and c) inadequate and unhygienic provision for storing and disposal of household waste.

Pests create a risk of cross-contamination and infection, carry disease and can infect food and surfaces. Structural defects, such as broken vents to suspended timber floors, can enable the entry of pests and rodents to the dwelling. There are also instances where rats have gnawed through plastic covers to wall ventilators. Urban rat infestations show an association with poor environments and areas of poor quality or multi-occupied housing.

Vulnerable Group: All ages

16. Food Safety

This category covers threats of infection resulting from inadequacies in provision and facilities for the storage, preparation and cooking of food.

Sinks are used for the washing and preparation of food, for the washing-up of food preparation and cooking equipment and utensils, and for the washing-up of cutlery and crockery. Cracks, chips or other damage to the internal surface may prevent thorough cleansing and provide for harbourage of pathogenic and food spoiling organisms.

Worktops are used for the preparation of food, including rolling out pastry, supporting chopping boards for cutting raw and cooked food, and for the dishing-up of food from cooking utensils into serving bowls and onto plates. Cracks, chips or other damage to the surface may prevent cleansing and provide for harbourage of pathogens and food spoiling organisms. Electrical equipment such as kettles, food processors and microwave cookers will also be used on worktops.

Vulnerable Group: All ages

17. Personal Hygiene, Sanitation, Drainage

This category covers threats of infection and threats to mental health associated with personal hygiene, including personal washing and clothes washing facilities, sanitation and drainage. It does not include problems with pests associated with defective drainage facilities.

The greatest risks appear to arise from the sharing of facilities and personal hygiene behaviour, rather than from the design and condition of facilities provided. However, where there are deficiencies with the facilities themselves, this clearly can increase the risk from this hazard.

Vulnerable Group: Children under 5 years

18. Water Supply for Domestic Purposes

This category covers 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 radon and lead are dealt with separately.)

The vast majority of dwellings in the UK are served by public mains water, with around 1% of the population served by private water supplies. Private supplies may become contaminated more readily because water is usually pumped into a storage tank within the dwelling.

Legionella can be dispersed into the air during use of showers, and this, although rare, is the most likely route for transmission of Legionnaires' disease in homes. Legionella thrive between 20ºC and 45ºC.

Vulnerable Group: All ages

19. Falls associated with Baths

This category includes any fall associated with a bath, shower or similar facility.

The main cause of falls in bathrooms is slipping when getting into or out of the bath. Thus the slip resistance of the internal surfaces of baths and showers when wet will affect the likelihood of an incidence occurring.

Vulnerable Group: All persons 60 or more years of age

20. Falls on the Level

This category covers 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.

The construction, evenness, inherent slip resistance, drainage (for outdoor path surfaces), and maintenance of the floor or path surface, all affect the likelihood of an occurrence and the severity of the outcome. Other factors such as lighting, temperature and distracting noise also have an affect

Vulnerable Group: All persons 60 or more years of age

21. Falls associated with Stairs and Steps

This category covers any fall associated with a stairs, steps and ramps where the change in level is greater than 300mm. It includes falls associated with:

Variations in dimensions of rise and going within a flight are likely to increase the possibility of missteps. However, where the variation is linked with an obvious change in direction of a stair, for example with the use of winders, this may mean that the user takes greater care and increases concentration, reducing the likelihood of an occurrence.

Vulnerable Group: All persons 60 or more years of age

22. Falls between Levels

This category covers falls from one level to another, inside or outside a dwelling, where the difference in levels is more than 300mm. It includes, for example, falls out of windows, falls from balconies or landings, falls from accessible roofs, into basement wells, and over garden retaining walls.

The ease of opening windows, the distance they can be opened, the height of the sill and the design of the opening light will all have a bearing on the possibility of an occurrence. For windows above ground floor level, the ease of cleaning from inside will affect the likelihood of an occurrence.

Vulnerable Group: Under 5 years

23. Electrical Hazards

This category covers hazards 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.)

By touching metal or other conducting material which is 'live' a person may receive an electric shock. The risk is dependent on a number of factors, the main one being the voltage across the body. An electric shock is experienced when current passes through the body to earth.

Vulnerable Group: Children under 5 years

24. Fire

This category covers threats from exposure to uncontrolled fire and associated smoke at a dwelling.

It includes injuries from clothing catching alight on exposure to an uncontrolled fire, which appears to be common when people attempt to extinguish such a fire. However, it 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.

Occupier behaviour is a major factor in relation to fires starting. Over 80% of accidental fires in dwellings result from occupier carelessness or misuse of equipment or appliances, etc. Fires started by smokers' materials and matches account for about 40% of accidental deaths from dwelling fires, with a death rate of over 30 per 1,000 reported fires, the highest death rate resulting from any cause of fire ignition.

Vulnerable Group: All persons 60 or more years of age

25. Hot Surfaces and Materials

This category covers threats of:

It includes burns caused by clothing catching alight from a controlled fire or flame, for example, when reaching across a gas flame or open fire used for heating. It does not include burns resulting from an uncontrolled fire at a dwelling.

Around 50% of severe burn and scald injuries to young children happen in the kitchen. The most common items involved in these accidents are cups and mugs of hot drinks, kettles, teapots, coffee pots, saucepans, cookers and chip pans and deep fryers.

Vulnerable Group: Children under 5 years

26. Collision and Entrapment (also Collision Hazards from Low Headroom)

This category includes risks of physical injury from:

There is always an inherent risk of entrapment by doors and windows. However, certain features can affect that risk

The risk increases where doors or windows are difficult to close. Where a door closer is over-powerful a small child may not be strong enough to resist it. Doors and windows which pivot (rather than being hinged) can trap fingers or hands. Weak or broken sash cords mean that the window cannot be operated without a risk of physical injury.

Vulnerable Group: Children under 5 years (also All persons aged 16 years or over)

27. Explosions

This category covers the threat 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.

A study for the Building Research Establishment (BRE) between 1985 and 1991 showed that the most frequent causes of explosions were mains gas (42%) and stored gas (17%). Water vapour explosions accounted for 5%, and fire for 4%, of the total recorded explosions.

The most likely causes are defective installation or design, and defects from inadequate maintenance.

Vulnerable Group: All ages

28. Ergonomics - Position and Operability of Amenities

This category covers threats of physical strain associated with functional space and other features at dwellings.

The positioning and location of amenities, fittings and equipment and the design and layout of dwellings has an effect on convenience of use. Inappropriate positioning of amenities and equipment may cause physical strain. For example, strain can result from awkward positioning of windows, difficult to operate window catches, inadequate functional space such as low headroom, inadequate space around bathroom or kitchen facilities, or inappropriate siting of facilities.

Vulnerable Group: All persons 60 or more years of age

29. Structural Collapse and Falling Elements

This category covers the threat of whole dwelling collapse, or of an element or a part of the fabric being displaced or falling because of inadequate fixing, disrepair, or as a result of adverse weather conditions. Structural failure may occur internally or externally within the curtilage threatening occupants, or externally outside the curtilage putting at risk members of the public.

Externally, the hazard ranges from falling slates, eaves gutters, bricks or windows, to collapse of walls. Internally, it includes floor, ceiling and staircase collapse. The most common incident is for a fixture, such as a light fitting or kitchen cabinet, to fall from the ceiling or wall, because of a combination of poor fixings and vibration. However, the most common part of the fabric of buildings to fall and injure someone is ceiling plaster. Being hit by chimney pots and roof slates/tiles is much more rare.

Vulnerable Group: All ages

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