Compliance is a huge area of concern for businesses today. Whether it’s GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), the DPA (Data Processing Agreement) or the PECR (Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations), businesses have an ever-growing suite of rules and regulations to abide by. It’s not enough to simply have a business and to do well – you need to ensure everything is done by the letter of the law. Companies that don’t keep up-to-date with compliance leave themselves open to court cases and fines, which could of course make all the difference to the longevity and success of a growing company.
One area of compliance that businesses should be more conscious of is that of facilities management – specifically maintenance and regulations with regards to buildings and property. As a business that wishes to be around and thriving for decades to come, you need to ensure it is built on a solid foundation, and that you are constantly up-to-date and staying compliant with relevant facilities regulations.
Below are five areas of concern for modern businesses with regards to building code violations.
1. Fixed wire testing (EICR testing or Fixed Electrical Testing)
Fixed Wire Testing involves the testing and inspection of all electrical installations in your business’ building, to ensure they are entirely safe and compliant with modern regulations. This will include checking everything from plug sockets and air conditioning to distribution boards and main panels. Fixed Wire Testing actively looks for possible faulty wires or electrical systems. Issues such as this can result in power shortages or even electric shocks and fires.
According to The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, there is a duty of care on all employers to ensure, as far as is practicable, that the health and safety of their employees is being looked after. Part of this includes Fixed Wire Testing. What’s more, The Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 covers electrical safety testing and puts the onus on employers to protect the health and safety of all employees and visitors to the workplace – this is legally enforced by the HSE.
If you have industrial premises, fixed wiring should be inspected at least once every three years and if you have a commercial space, the maximum time is five years between each inspection.
2. Fire safety compliance
As mentioned, it’s important for workplaces to do everything they reasonably can to ensure their staff and visitors are safe. Part of this will involve complying with Fire Safety regulations, which will involve carrying out assessments and putting appropriate precautions in place. Businesses that fail in this area put their employees at unnecessary risk – they also open themselves up to fines or even prison sentences.
Fire assessments of the premises must be carried out regularly, and appropriate measures must be put in place and maintained – this is something you should keep in mind when making alterations or extensions to your business. Such extensions must also comply with building fire safety regulations, which will involve building fire safety into the proposed building or extension.
3. Energy performance certificates (EPC)
2050 targets of CO2, energy management and monitoring will become much more prominent in terms of future legislation in order to meet these commitments. Ever-changing legislative updates need to be adhered to.
Energy Performance Certificates tell you how energy-efficient a building is. It’ll give you a rating from A to G, and this same rating will give you an indication as to how costly it is to heat and light your business, as well as what the carbon dioxide emissions are likely to be.
EPCs are valid for ten years from the date of issue, and you must have and display your EPC certificate if your building is frequently visited by the public or has a total floor area of over 500 square metres. A full assessment of the property is needed to obtain an EPC certificate, and if this is neglected, there is a risk of fines.
4. Noise control compliance
While you might at first think of noise control as a domestic issue, the reality is that businesses need to be compliant in this area, too. In the UK, The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 (the Noise Regulations) came into force for all industry sectors in 2006.
Noise can result in permanent and disabling hearing damage, and when noise levels are of a sufficient volume, it can make important communications and warnings harder to hear, leading to safety issues. Employers need to take action to reduce noise exposure and provide employees with personal hearing protection, where relevant. As well as this, businesses may need to set legal limits on noise exposure, while providing employees with instruction and training to keep them safe.
5. Air conditioning servicing
Since the beginning of COVID-19, increased attention has been placed on Indoor Air Quality (IAQ), and for good reason. The more ventilated a space is, the safer employees are from viruses and germs in general. Air conditioning has long been used as a tool to keep the air filtered and to maintain comfortable temperature levels for employees, stock and machinery. However, air conditioning must be maintained. Serviced air conditioning systems work more efficiently as they reduce energy consumption and they keep your employees safer – at a time when they really need that added level of security.
|About the Author
Steve Tomkins, Head of Business Development at SFG20, is a chartered engineering leader with over 20 years’ engineering maintenance & management experience working in the Facilities Management, Construction, Rail & Automotive sectors.