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The Unforeseen Hazards Of Running A Business In The 21st Century By Graham Nicholson

  in Advice | Published 2019-01-08 04:26:11 | 27 Reads | Unrated


Running a business in the UK in the 21st century is nowhere near as easy as it was forty or fifty years ago simply because of the incredible amounts of legislation that there is today that did not exist back then. The problem for many businessmen is that they may struggle to understand it or not eve

n be aware of it.

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Running a business in the UK today is nowhere near as easy as it was forty or fifty years ago because of the incredible amounts of legislation that we have today that simply didn't exist in the 1960's and 70's. The problem for many small businessmen is that there is so much legislation that they may not even be aware of some of it, and even if they are, may struggle to understand exactly what it is that they need to do in order to comply with the law.


If you are an employer, one such area is the

>fire risk that your premises may pose. This is both the risk to your employees while on your premises and the risk to customers or anyone else who may visit you. The legislation is pretty lengthy, and one of the things that it requires you to do is to carry out a fire risk assessment, which is fine if you know how to do it, but not so fine if you don't.


Even if you do know how to do it, you are required to keep a written record of your assessment, and you should keep a spare somewhere else off your premises, or perhaps online on something like Dropbox, just in case the original gets lost. Your local fire service can make an inspection at any time without warning. All of that takes time, when you should be doing what you do best and that is running your business and making a profit. 


Then you are required to make re-assessments "from time to time" in case anything has changed. However, there seems to be no definition of what "from time to time" actually means, other than if there have been any changes to fuel, people, means of escape, and so on. Every month? Every Year? Every five years? Every time you take on a new cleaner?


One fire brigade has produced a pdf that lists some, but not all, of the changes that may occur and give rise to the need for you to consider a re-assessment of the risk, but just reading it is enough to give you a headache. For instance, the Fire Safety Management Policy reads as follows:

"What changes have occurred since carrying out the last fire risk assessment that has affected your company policy on fire safety?" Then it provides

  Suggested Measures:

• Roles and responsibilities of your employees has changed

• Fire marshals and wardens

• New employees

• New technology or new work practices

• Emergency procedures

• Assembly points

• Young persons

• New layouts / processes.


It gets better.


"Sources of Ignition:

What changes have occurred since the last fire risk assessment that have increased or decreased your ignition sources?"


Suggested Control Measures:

• Avoid naked flames where possible

• Combustibles & heat sources kept separate

• Electrical PAT testing up to date

• Cooling vents on electrical equipment kept free from obstruction

• Multi-gang sockets/extension leads are being used correctly

• Fixed installations tested

• Appliances have correct fuses

• Old/worn wiring replaced

• Smoking Policy enforced:

• No evidence of smoking in ‘Smoke Free Areas’

• Ash trays regularly emptied

• Designated areas kept clear of combustibles

• Arson policy up to date and applicable – any new risks included

• Cooking – ductwork filters regularly checked/cleaned

• ‘Hot work’ policy enforced

• Contractors made aware of company’s fire safety policy


Those are just two out of ten areas they suggest you look at. The others include such things as emergency routes and exits; maintenance, servicing, and testing; dangerous substances; identifying people at risk; spread of fire; sources of ignition; sources of fuel; and premises details. Bear in mind that the fire brigade concerned states that this is not an "exhaustive list"! Quite when you would have any time for running your business – commonplace things like overseeing staff and talking to customers – is difficult to imagine.


However, there is an answer to the problem and that is to hand it all over to someone else to deal with. There are companies out there who specialise in undertaking fire risk assessments of premises the length and breadth of the country and for a reasonable fee will examine your premises and provide you with a written assessment so that you can take any necessary steps to keep your premises as safe as possible, comply with the law, and save yourself all the hours and even days of doing it yourself – and still possibly not getting it right.


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