You can have the best business model around; a clear company direction and well-thought-out organisational objectives and values – but if you fail to take into account compliance, you risk losing everything. No business is exempt from legal standards and guidelines, and should keep a close eye on compliance risks. It can be difficult to keep up with them – which is why a good facilities manager can make all the difference between a company collapsing and a business thriving.
For modern businesses, compliance is a huge and pressing concern. While a recent and well-known example is that of GDPR, which was introduced in 2018 and prompted businesses all over Europe to reconsider how they store and track data, there are other compliance issues and facility management risks that business owners must keep in mind – unless they want to risk the security and longevity of their business.
When it comes to facilities management, there are a great number of compliance risks to keep in mind and to track. As building owner, you are responsible for the correct and compliant maintenance of your estate. It is a widely held and incorrect belief that if facilities maintenance is outsourced then the risk is passed to the contractor. As the building owner, you are the duty holder, you cannot dispense your duty to a third party – however, you can have a third party deliver it.
Below are five examples of compliance risks that business owners must track, monitor and enforce in order to remain legally compliant into 2022 and beyond.
Air Conditioning Servicing
Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) has become a pressing issue for businesses around the world since the start of the pandemic. Now, more than ever, we know that adequate ventilation is necessary to keep us safe from viruses. If businesses want to operate more traditionally and not so virtually, they need to consider how to keep the air their employees breathe as clean as possible.
Long before COVID, air conditioning has been used as an air filtering tool, while helping to maintain comfortable temperature levels for employees. Air conditioning units are a great option for most businesses, but they must be maintained to run efficiently and safely. Businesses must be sure to get their air conditioners serviced and tested periodically to ensure they are doing their jobs and circulating the air properly.
Fire Safety Compliance
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 states that there is a duty of care on all employers to ensure that the health and safety of their employees is being looked after – as far as is practicable. Part of this will involve complying with Fire Safety regulations, which will involve carrying out regular assessments and putting appropriate precautions in place. When business owners fail to remain compliant in this area, it puts employees at unnecessary risk, while also opening themselves up to risks, including prison sentences and fines.
Regular fire assessments are crucial, and appropriate measures must be put in place and maintained, whether it’s for an existing building or for an alteration or extension.
Often regarded purely as a domestic issue, it might not at first occur to business owners that they have a legal obligation to consider, and to control, noise levels within their premises. Since The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 came into force in 2006, businesses are forced to contemplate how noises within their buildings can impact not only their employees but neighbours.
While a certain level of noise is unavoidable and expected in the running of an average business, excessive and continual noise can be a real concern – such noise might result in permanent hearing damage. What’s more, loud noises can get in the way of clear communication and warnings, which could have a knock-on effect on other safety measures. For reasons such as this, it’s on the employer’s shoulders to (within reason) limit and reduce noise exposure. In certain situations, employers may have to provide employees with appropriate training and regulations regarding noise exposure, while setting legal limits on certain instruments.
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.
Valid for ten years from the date of issue, Energy Performance Certificates are a legal requirement for buildings that are frequently visited by the public, or for businesses with an area of over 500 square metres. Such a certificate will tell you how energy-efficient a building is on a rating from A to G. This same certificate will indicate what your carbon dioxide emissions are likely to be and how costly it is for you to heat and light your business. It’s important to keep on top of your EPC certificate as a business, and the process for getting one will involve a full and complete assessment of your property.
Fixed Wire Testing
Fixed Wire Testing (also known as EICR Testing or Fixed Electrical Testing) is a test and inspection of all the electrical installations on your business premises. This is a comprehensive inspection, which will include plug sockets, air conditioning units and distribution boards. These tests are a great health and safety precaution, as they look out for faulty wire and electrical systems that may result in power shortages, electric shocks and fires. Fixed wiring regular testing, according to equipment application and use.
The compliance risks above are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of facilities management. There is so much more for business owners to keep in mind and to keep on top of, which isn’t an easy feat when you are already trying to run a successful business and look after your bottom line. These issues are not something you can set aside or overlook, but there are professionals who can help you remain compliant, giving you peace of mind while you focus on the work that will keep your business around for years to come.
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.