Play it safe when moving to new premises


Companies that move premises risk fines of up to £20,000 if they breach health and safety regulations.

Falling foul of health and safety regulations is a criminal offence and can result in the company, or an individual manager, being prosecuted by Health and Safety Executive inspectors or local authority environmental health officers and if found guilty being fined or imprisoned.

This risk can be mitigated by using a commercial building surveyor with experience providing in-depth surveys and reports for a wide range of different issues that may arise when preparing a business premises.

Unlike a residential home, a commercial property must adhere to a number of health and safety conditions. These include…

Fire safety audit
An efficient fire evacuation route is essential. The commercial building surveyor will analyse how effective a building’s fire escapes are and make suggestions as to how the evacuation procedure can be improved.

An assessment of those in vulnerable positions in the event of a fire will also be provided, with advice given on how these individuals can be helped. A commercial building surveyor might also look at fire extinguishers and other equipment to ensure that it is within easy reach and well serviced.

Health and safety audit
This is an assessment of the health and safety management process and its efficiency in the new building. The surveyor will take into account any potential vulnerable people and suggest ways to improve the health and safety process. The surveyor may also highlight potential hazards or defects which can be avoided and suggest improvements as to how these hazards can be reduced.

Access audit
The Disability Discrimination Acts of 1995 and 2005 mean it is illegal to discriminate against anyone in the workplace, transport, educational or service sectors on the basis of their disability.

Business premises are therefore required to undergo access audits, which consists of an analysis of the building in question and assessing its suitability for disabled employees or clients. Advice is then given as to how conditions may be improved for these individuals.

Building condition survey
Like any normal survey, a building condition survey consists of an in-depth analysis of the property in question, taking a look at all visible and accessible elements of the property including the structural foundations of the property. A building condition survey is recommended for older properties, historic properties, altered properties and properties of a non-traditional construction. It offers a more detailed analysis than a general Home Buyers report and will take a look at any major or immediate defects found present within the property.

The commercial building surveyor may then provide advice as to how any issues or defects may be resolved, including a potential run-down of the costs involved. This is incredibly useful as a business owner as you are able to properly assess the benefits or disadvantages of making the necessary repairs and then moving in, or deciding to try elsewhere. Without a building surveyor, these defects may not come to light until too late.

When dealing with other members of staff and ensuring their safety, it is better to be safe rather than sorry. To avoid having to make expensive alterations to your business premises after meeting the costs of fines or potential injury lawsuits, play it safe and request the assistance of a professional chartered commercial building surveyor.

Article provided by Mike, working together; a firm of chartered surveyors based in Harrogate, North Yorkshire.