This week British Gas revealed that around 20 per cent of small businesses could be putting their business operations at risk because they lack an understanding of their business gas safety requirements.
The survey of more than 520 small to medium businesses showed widespread confusion among decision makers as to when these crucial checks should take place.
This is despite the fact that last year British Gas attended over 22,000 emergency callouts to businesses, who were either suffering from gas appliance issues or boiler breakdowns.
With December just around the corner and historically the busiest month for boiler issues and breakdowns, there has never been a better time to review your business’s operations. Specialist engineers say the problems occur because boilers struggle to cope with the sudden high level of use when they’ve been dormant for so long.
Of the businesses polled in the research, 31% said they would welcome more guidance on the safety requirements their business has to comply with so British Gas has put together this handy guide to help clarify the legal pitfalls and take some of the hassle away from businesses at this busy time of year:
Who is responsible?
It’s a requirement for businesses to be inspected by their local councils at regular intervals. One financial fallout of not getting your businesses gas appliances checked is it can result in the Public Liability Insurance covering the premises, becoming void.
Gas safety checks are also a legal requirement for employers under the Health & Safety at Work Act. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) states this is because the responsibility of maintaining gas appliances in a commercial property doesn’t lie directly with the landlord or the tenant, but is agreed between both parties at the beginning of the tenancy and included as part of the tenancy agreement.
Top tips to avoid putting your business operations at risk this winter:
1. Ensure you know when you need your heating system to come on and go off. Base this on the occupancy of your business and your heating requirements. Then set your timer appropriately so you don’t leave it running for longer than necessary. If you have a room thermostat, make sure it’s set to the right temperature.
2. Another safeguard is to have in place a maintenance contract with a good response rate in place. This ensures that you are keeping up with your safety obligations and you have a solution in the event of an emergency.
3. Get the most out of your heating system by having it power flushed and protected with an inhibitor.
4. Ensure your business is adequately insulated, including exposed pipework and tanks that may be susceptible to freezing.
5. Make sure you have a carbon monoxide alarm installed.
Help is at hand
Liz Robinson, a British Gas engineer, says that taking simple steps like checking the boiler regularly can be invaluable.
“Even switching the boiler off and on, just for a couple of minutes every few weeks, to make sure everything is ticking over can help – exactly like you would a car if it hasn’t been used it in a while.”