The health and safety responsibilities for any commercial business are extensive and potentially complex, but these can be increased significantly if the commercial property your business is operating in is large. Large commercial buildings usually means a large surface area, but this can be in one building or spread over multiple, smaller buildings. Every business has the same basic health and safety responsibilities, but if you have a large commercial building you can encounter:
- More structural or construction issues
- More points of entry and exit to manage
- More complex fire safety procedures – including alarms
- More complex security procedures
- More requirements for gas and electrical safety
- More potential for pest control issues
- More likelihood of internal transport requirements and therefore management
It is not true that every health and safety issue is exponentially increased simply by having a large commercial building, but many of your health and safety responsibilities could require more careful planning, more investment and more management resources. Large commercial buildings are common in warehousing and industrial sectors, as well as retail, and while having a large commercial building doesn’t necessarily mean you have a much larger workforce, there are significant health and safety issues which are increased.
Designing a health and safety system for a large commercial building
When you are designing a health and safety system for a large commercial building, you need to base it around these core elements:
- Responsibility – With many commercial buildings there is a relationship between an owner or landlord and the tenant. So as the business owner you should have clear lines of responsibility to ensure that everybody knows who is responsible for what, and this should be documented. This is particularly important where there are separate buildings to manage.
- Risk assessment – You should have a comprehensive risk assessment carried out into all the operations taking place on site, to ensure that hazards and risks are identified and so that you can assess what controls are already in place, and what further actions are recommended. A system should also be in place to ensure these risk assessments are frequently revisited and repeated.
- Documentation – Your health and safety system should have defined, top, middle and lower tier documentation to ensure the policies and procedures of the business are clearly defined. This also relates to the routine inspection and testing of key health and safety elements.
- Audits – Health and safety audits will highlight issues and ensure they are addressed. This is particularly important in a large commercial building where issues may not be identified on a day-to-day basis because some areas may not be used or occupied every day.
- Information – Employees and visitors should be supplied with suitable information relating to equipment and materials used on site and these should also be made freely available and accessible at all times. Again, in a large commercial building this becomes more important, in terms of ensuring people are sufficiently trained and knowledgeable.
- Meetings and communications – It is important that a business carries out actions relating to the controls recommended in risk assessments and that these are communicated to employees. But it is also important that consultations take place on how and where health and safety improvements should be made. In a large building it can be difficult to identify all the issues present and management is reliant on people at all levels of the organisation coming forward and entering into meaningful dialogue on health and safety issues.
Core health and safety issues in a large commercial building
Apardion are a skilled, experienced and knowledgeable resource for outsourcing facilities management services, which incorporate all these health and safety issues discussed here. The basis of a health and safety system for a large commercial building should include:
- Cleaning and hygiene
- Fire safety
- Electrical safety
- Gas/heating safety
- Water safety and legionella controls
- Security – implementing adequate security controls to ensure a large commercial building is safe and secure
At Apardion we can assist with all these health and safety issues after first carrying out a full risk assessment. We can advise on compliance and put controls in place to address the key health and safety issues identified. Our facilities management services include managing these controls and deploying our people to provide a comprehensive, outsourced system which is entirely managed, inspected and monitored by us.
We have experience of working across a number of different commercial sectors, which has led to us working in many large commercial buildings and addressing the specific challenges these present. With larger premises come more complicated procedures, often more people and bigger potential issues, so our adaptable procedures and flexible, skilled personnel means we can tailor a solution for your large commercial building, address the key issues and implement a robust and practical solution in the form of a workable health and safety management programme, so if you have a large commercial building and need help with your facilities management and health and safety requirements, then contact Apardion today.