Workplace Fire SafetyLegal

2 minute read

London’s Rapid Expansion – What Safety Precautions Do New Businesses Need To Consider?

As one of the world’s leading centres for business, London has long since outgrown its original borders and is showing no sign of slowing down the expansion of its commercial districts in the near future.

The rate of growth has been such that the former seat of power in The City is being rivalled by new developments, such as the huge project taking place around the popular Dockland location of Canary Wharf. The ambitious scheme is set to include thousands of shops, homes, restaurants, parks – even a primary school and a medical centre, and is indicative of the regard in which the capital is still held among developers.

Geoff Drabble, Chief Executive of London equipment hire firm Ashtead, recently went as far as to christen London the “world’s second-biggest construction site”, in reference to its ever-expanding skyline and ongoing development work.

Safety for New Businesses

While the rate of growth appears to be good news for the economy, there are still considerations that must be made by those setting up new businesses in order to keep them, their premises and their employees safe.

The first of these is fire safety. Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order, 2005, it is the responsibility of the employer or business owner to ensure that sufficient fire safety procedures and facilities have been put in place. This involves carrying out a fire risk assessment, identifying at-risk areas across the premises, and taking steps to remove hazards.

All fire safety equipment, such as extinguishers, alarms, fire doors and emergency lighting should be in place and checked on a regular basis, while evacuation and assembly plans should be made for all staff members – particularly those whose movement is impaired.

For new buildings being developed within London’s areas of commerce, fire safety is an even bigger consideration. Throughout the construction process, planning permissions state that considerations must be made for sufficient means of escape from a property, including fire escapes, fire doors, lighting and more.

Construction sites are particularly at risk, as many will often have flammable materials lying around, such as dry timber. Tight deadlines and budgets sometimes see the temptation to cut corners in respect to on-site fire safety – something that all foremen need to be aware of.

Another important consideration for those setting up new businesses in London is security. With over 20% of all reported crimes in the UK carried out against businesses (including cybercrime), ensuring that an effective alarm or CCTV system is installed is crucial for avoiding break-ins and vandalism.

A visible CCTV camera acts as a great deterrent against opportunistic thieves as well as providing evidence should a robbery or attack occur, and a loudly sounding alarm will put off most intruders. Having this equipment installed from the outset with a new building should help to protect it from the threat of crime – especially in the often-targeted financial districts around London.