As many as 1.7 million small and medium-sized enterprises could be failing to adhere to legal health and safety requirements surrounding gas appliances, research by British Gas revealed.
The gas and electricity supplier’s study found that 52% of people in senior management positions or higher, who are responsible for facilities or energy management, and whose business contains gas appliances, said they don’t know how regularly they are supposed to arrange gas safety checks.
All employers must ensure that their gas pipework, gas appliances and flues are kept in a safe condition, according to the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998.
Furthermore, British Gas’ study found that many firms do not have back-up plans in place in the event of a central heating breakdown. Although 60% of respondents with heating systems or boiler said that they had dealt with a breakdown in the last five years, 26% admitted that they do not have a contract in place to deal with this incident and do not have any back-up plans set up. This is despite the business consequences of central heating breakdowns, with 15% of respondents saying they would miss out on trading hours if this occurred during the winter, and 11% saying that it would significantly impact their bottom line.
Health and safety obligations are also causing strive for the nation’s SMEs; 39% of respondents said they struggle to find time to deal with their safety obligations, with 38% of respondents saying safety and compliance requirements left them feeling “overwhelmed”.
Only 49% of the SMEs polled said that they have had gas appliance safety checks in the last year, indicating that many firms could be leaving themselves open to prosecution and putting the health and safety of their workers in jeopardy. Companies that do not meet gas safety requirements could also find that their public liability insurance is invalid as a result of these failings.
Liz Abbots, owner of Leamington Spa’s Top Nosh Catering, said that it is “really important” for her business to keep its gas appliances working properly.
She said that she needs her hot water to work every day of the week, and that a temporary breakdown could cost her company “dearly”.
Boiler cover isn’t just for businesses, of course; homeowners will need to ensure that their central heating system works properly over the coming winter, otherwise they may end up dealing with a broken boiler over the festive period.
We offer 24/7 boiler breakdown cover, every day of the year, so if your boiler seizes up on Christmas Eve, you won’t have to wait until 2015 to see an engineer!