It’s difficult to keep up with all the legislation that applies to your business these days and we often bring our customers’ attention to areas where they are, unwittingly, failing to comply with the law.
One such issue that has cropped up repeatedly of late has been the rules surrounding fire safety.
In 2006 the old fire certificates were abolished and replaced with a new fire safety regime that requires business owners to carry out fire risk assessments of their premises.
This applies to almost all non-domestic premises in Scotland, yet many small businesses are unaware of their responsibilities.
Precisely what needs to be done will depend on the nature of the individual property and the processes undertaken.
While it is therefore impossible to produce a one size fits all template, the basic steps of risk assessment tend to follow the same structure.
Take a logical approach and first look at potential heat sources and anything that might help fuel a fire. Examples of heat sources could be welding, sparks from machinery, chemical reactions and electrical faults. Fuel might include the presence of wood, cardboard, plastics or flammable liquids.
Once you have evaluated the risks within the business, consider if the current arrangements could be improved to minimise the chance of fire or to reduce its spread.
Can housekeeping or storage methods be improved? Are machinery and appliances checked for faults? Are your fire extinguishers properly maintained?
Also consider those who might be harmed in the event of a fire. Are your escape routes clear and appropriately signed? Will everyone know what to do in the event of a fire?
When I raise the issue of risk assessment with customers they are often concerned that it’s something that is going to cost them a lot of money, but that’s not necessarily the case.
Any conclusions you reach from the risk assessment have to be suitable for your individual business and affordability within a budget is always a factor.
You might have fire insurance in place, but that really only delivers a cheque after the event.
Life is a lot easier if we can avoid the fire in the first place.
■ Contact John at firstname.lastname@example.org