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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Five important workplace health and safety considerations for commercial tenants

By Bill Turner

Health and Safety in the workplace might be something most people love to moan about, but it does help protect employees from danger. Employers have a duty to ensure the workforce are safe at work, and landlords renting to those with a commercial lease must ensure that premises are safe to be occupied. So here are the key health and safety requirements to take into account when starting or operating a business.
workplace safety
Safer workplaces may lower liability insurance costs

Risk assessment

To ensure that your workforce are safe at work, you must carry out a risk assessment. A risk assessment will tell you whether you have covered all the areas you need to. Generally speaking, health and safety compliance in the workplace means that all employers must, ‘ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work’ of all their employees.

Safety of premises

Incorporating the actual building itself should be integral to any risk assessment. Key points for maintaining a safe physical environment include:
  • Ensuring the building is in good repair
  • That equipment works properly, and is properly maintained
  • That windows can be opened for adequate ventilation
  • That staff have access to a lavatory, clean water and hand basin
  • That heating works and a temperature of at least 16 degrees Celsius can be maintained
  • That fire safety regulations are complied with. The building should include fire exits.

Noise control

Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 require employers to reduce or eliminate the dangers posed by noise. This will obviously depend on the sector, but for those who work in noisy environment, then action should be taken to:
  • Provide employees with personal hearing protection, instruction and training
  • Ensure legal limits on noise aren’t exceeded
  • Make sure equipment provided to reduce noise is maintained
Schools and hospitals are the most likely workplaces to benefit from acoustic control. Sound insulation and internal doors with acoustic controls will provide the most protection from noise.

Gas and electrical safety

Gas and electricity can be dangerous, so it’s important to remain aware of any risks this may present. Gas and electrical appliances should be checked regularly, and gas boilers serviced once a year by law.  Generally speaking, the owner of the building holds responsibility for making sure that the gas and wiring is safe in the building itself however you might want to bear this in mind when you perform your own health and safety risk assessment.

Fire safety

Controlling the risk of fire is a legal duty, so property owners and commercial tenants need to ensure the risks to the workforce or visitors to the premises are reduced. You must carry out a fire risk assessment, evaluate it, review it regularly, make regular checks on fire doors, fire fighting equipment and exits, and provide staff with fire escape training and information. Buildings that have benefited from quality internal door installation offering protection from fire are far safer, so if you’re in the process of choosing a new premises then make sure fire doors are in place.

About the author: Bill Turner is happy living a relaxed lifestyle on the South Coast of England, all he needs is his dog (bones), technology and and keyboard.

Image: Compliance and Safety LLC, "Various workplace safety signs commonly used at construction sites and industrial work environments", CC BY-SA 3.0