Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Moving Business Premises

Businesses that take the decision to relocate do so for a number of reasons. Increased growth could lead to a requirement for a larger premises, or new branch office, but likewise, downsizing might be needed in order to maintain the business as a going concern. New markets might open up or the opportunity to purchase a competitor might simply be too good to resist.

All of these reasons can lead to all or part of the business relocating and moving into new premises. Yet organisations often find themselves unnecessarily incurring costs for fixing health & safety issues after they have moved into new premises. Many issues can be avoided with better planning and by asking the right questions. Prior to purchasing premises or signing building leases, you should ensure that a competent solicitor and building surveyor are contracted to provide advice about the process of taking on the premises and the potential issues with the premises. These could include:

•    Building and equipment integrity
•    Legal restrictions
•    Suitability of the premises for your staff, equipment, fittings, vehicles
•    Presence of hazardous materials (e.g. asbestos).

There are a number of things you should consider prior to purchasing, and also numerous pieces of information you should ask for too. These include:

Asking vendors, solicitors, landlords for:

•    A copy of the health & safety file, if compiled under the requirements of the Construction, Design and Management (CDM) Regulations
•    Site asbestos register and findings of any asbestos survey reports
•    Maintenance, inspection and test records for equipment or plant provided by the vendor/landlord. This could be the fire alarm system, electrical mains installations, local exhaust ventilation (LEV) equipment, lifts, gas boilers, etc
•    The Legionella management plan, where relevant
•    Any structural or environmental surveys.

In addition, you should consider the proposed use of premises in respect of:

•    Welfare arrangements, such as toilets, ventilation, work space, equipment/furniture layout, glazing, temperature, etc.; are they suitable for the proposed activities and number/type of staff?
•    Chemicals, gas cylinders, equipment; how and where they will be stored, located, handled and used
•    Building work, repair and maintenance
•    Access and egress, traffic management, pedestrian movement in and outside the premises.

Once information relating to the building has been obtained, the organisation’s contractual duties defined and the lease/purchase contracts signed, the following health & safety tasks should be implemented to help prepare for the move.

Prior to moving into new premises, prepare:

•    A fire risk assessment and start to develop a fire management and emergency plan
•    A business continuity risk assessment.


•    The requirements of the CDM Regulations which will need to be followed if building work, repair or maintenance is planned
•    Emergency and first aid arrangements for when the site is occupied
•    What safety signs are needed
•    The building layout, along with controls for reducing potential noisy areas and equipment
•    Storage and waste disposal arrangements
•    Racking and shelving requirements, including procedures to minimise manual handling tasks
•    Developing an asbestos management plan, where relevant
•    Purchasing safer equipment
•    Preparing a list of approved suppliers and contractors.

Actions for when staff have moved in:

You should already have your existing health & safety management system in place for your existing/old premises and this will need reviewing for the new business location. Normally only slight modifications will be needed and it is usually preferable to do much of this prior to the move but often it is not possible until staff and equipment are installed in the building. The actions listed below should be reviewed, amended or created, where relevant, to reflect the activities and nature of the new premises:

•    Risk assessments and safe systems of work, e.g. working at height, confined spaces, hazardous equipment, manual handling, COSHH, etc. Ensure old versions of assessments are archived
•    Display screen equipment workstation assessments
•    Equipment register to cover any new equipment or plant, such as ladders, electrical equipment, trolleys, etc
•    A maintenance schedule for any equipment
•    Procedures for controlling contractors and visitors on site
•    Procedures for undertaking staff induction at the new premises.

Organisations will also need to display an up to date health and safety law poster ‘What you need to know’, a valid Employers Liability Insurance Certificate and monitor health & safety practices regularly.

Additional Support from Citation plc

Citation clients have the support of its Helpline that can be contacted 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year to give advice on handling cases around Health & Safety as well as Employment Law.

Citation plc is one of the UK’s largest Health & Safety and Employment Law firms, with over 6,500 UK businesses as clients. As a DHF preferred supplier of Health & Safety and Employment Law compliance solutions Citation offer preferential rates to DHF members. For further details call 0845 844 1111 or visit www.citation.co.uk/affinity/dhf.


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