Damage caused by burglary, fire, flood or other disaster has the potential to paralyse any business, whatever the size of the company.
Serious damage and loss can have devastating financial implications, but there is often far more at risk. Whilst most insurance companies will take care of the cost of financial losses, the ramifications for the loss of confidential, private documents, the potential loss of business and trading can be huge. This is before we mention the damage from not keeping your business employees safe.
Nobody expects an emergency situation while at work, but all types of catastrophe strike UK businesses across the country on a daily basis. Would you know how to handle a potentially dangerous situation, and for example, the procedure for evacuation? There is a duty of care for all employees for your business to keep them safe, so each and every one should be ready at a moment’s notice.
Here are some tips to keep your business and its employees as safe as possible:
Create an action plan
Every company should have one. Outline the responsibilities and roles of all employees in the event of an emergency. It should also include
- Training – depending on the size of your company, you may need to assign specific roles to key employees which could require training, such as First Aid.
- Escape routes – diagrams which highlight all exits, the fire assembly point and accessible routes for those with disabilities or mobility issues.
- Fire safety equipment – decide on whether you should evacuate immediately in the event of a fire, or whether employees should be instructed to use fire extinguishers. Training may need to be given, and your extinguisher supplier will give you full and comprehensive instructions upon delivery.
- Fire drills – regular routine fire drills will give your staff a chance to practice the duties they would be expected to carry out in the event of a real life emergency situation. Drills will also provide an opportunity to test your alarm system, and highlight any maintenance issues should they arise. The more practice, the more efficient the evacuation will be.
Alarm systems should be high on the priority list, and there are very few businesses which operate without one, but installing CCTV cameras will further help in the fight against crime. Most burglars say that the main deterrent against them entering a property is CCTV. If your property is targeted by a more robust kind of thief that isn’t fazed by cameras, recorded footage can be used to try and help identify them, whilst giving an accurate timeline of events. Insurers find this kind of footage helpful in the event of any insurance claim. There are also other benefits of having CCTV including:
- Lower insurance – you’re less of a target, so the risk is reduced, which means your premiums are too!
- Cost effectiveness – CCTV requires very little maintenance, apart from making sure all lenses are clean.
- Security – and not just the practical kind! Knowing your premises is safe and secure when you’re at home will give you peace of mind, allowing you to switch off and relax.
- Monitoring – you can check what’s going on in and around your premises and the touch of a button. You may have some vulnerable areas that you want to keep an extra close eye on.
- Safety – your staff will have the added security of knowing they’re trackable within your premises, particularly if there’s a dark walk to the car park when they finish work for the day.
General safety and fire prevention
It’s essential that your staff are all up to date with procedures during an emergency, but there are also steps that need to be taken to reduce the risk of fire. These include:
- General maintenance – canteens and staff rooms/kitchens are notorious for grease build up, which is highly flammable. Appliances should be regularly PAT tested and kept as clean as possible.
- Storage – any flammable items and paper products should be kept well away from heat sources.
- Waste disposal – rubbish should ideally be cleared daily to avoid a build-up and subsequent hazard.
- Ventilation – areas which are cleaned with chemical cleaning products should be well ventilated during use, and stored well away from any heat source.
- No smoking – many fires are still caused by discarded cigarette ends. Make your site a smoke free zone – better health and safety for all!
- Clear exits – always make sure your exits are clear of clutter and debris. In the event of an emergency, evacuation could be impeded if exits are blocked.