Since mid-March, our country and indeed the globe were faced with the biggest epidemic in modern times and left business owners with commercial buildings/offices little to no time to plan a maintenance shut down strategy of their premises.

Under UK law, building owners, landlords and tenants will still need to maintain their buildings for security purposes; to achieve statutory compliance; and to protect the fabric and critical systems as well as satisfying any insurance implications. So what are the considerations for business owners?

BESA (The Building Engineering Services Association) produces standards for maintenance under SFG20, which most building adhere to in ‘normal’ working conditions however, with the current crisis SFG30 was produced which details a step by step process to maintain critical services during this period of low occupancy.

For many of us, a phased return is the most likely scenario at this time of writing and key elements which will need to be ready for this period include: Water system safety – in line with the Health & Safety Executive’s L8 rules for legionella control, both active and passive fire protection systems; safe handling of refrigerant gases; electrical and gas service safety checks and ventilation hygiene.

Water system hygiene
Your water system needs to be kept clean and sanitised through regular flushing to avoid stagnant water and bacteria evolving such as legionnaires’ disease. Compliance with ACOP L8 activities could include:
– Flushing of infrequently used outlets
– Temperature testing and water sampling for laboratory quality analysis.

Adequate lighting appropriate for the purpose of work in an office is essential for basic safety requirements.During periods of no or low occupancy, it’s important to ensure lighting is checked against compliance with BS 5266. These activities could include:
– Monthly Flick tests
– Full Battery Discharge Tests
– Clean and Re-lamping of fittings and illuminated signage.

Active & Passive Fire Protection
Active fire protection systems such as water sprinkler and spray systems are widely used in the buildings for the duty of protection systems. These may be used to extinguish the fire and control the fire.
Compliance with BS5839 for activities normally include:
– Weekly Fire Alarm Testing
– False Alarm Analysis
– Cause & Effect Testing
– Fire Panel Battery Replacement