If your company owns a building, maintenance is of the utmost importance. Improperly maintained buildings can lead to big problems.
Here we talk to Mike Berry, of construction and maintenance firm the hebs Group about why keeping your buildings in tip top shape is so vital.
Mike says, ‘In our experience, there are three main reasons why any company should keep their building maintenance up-to-date. Each is an important factor in keeping a business running at full efficiency, which is what every company aims for.’
Health of employees
There’s one compelling reason to carry out proper maintenance in a building – it’s the law. And the law is in place to protect the health of your employees. For example, if you have air conditioning in the building, you will be expected to have an air conditioning maintenance plan in place. If you have any gas equipment, you will be expected to have annual gas safety checks by a registered gas safety engineer.
But more than that, as an employer you have a responsibility to:
‘protect the health, safety and welfare of their employees and other people who might be affected by their business.’ Which means ‘making sure that workers and others are protected from anything that may cause harm, effectively controlling any risks to injury or health that could arise in the workplace.’
So, it is your duty as an employer or building owner to make sure that the premises are safe for everyone. And rightly so, seeing as employees are one of a company’s biggest assets.
There are many potential health risks to employees in a building, many of which may not be apparent to the untrained eye. For example, Mike says, ‘you could have a minor leak in the roof that goes unnoticed for some time. During that time, the water is creating a damp environment and mould starts to grow. This can start to affect those employees in close proximity to the problem, causing respiratory problems, which may lead to time off sick and even potential compensation claims.’
Mike goes on to explain that if that leak creates a pool of water, it could create a weakened area in the ceiling of one of the offices. Once that area breaks down, the water is released on to the office equipment below. This can cause all kinds of damage, not to mention being a potential slip hazard for staff too. So, says Mike, ‘having regular maintenance of roof areas can highlight problems and get them resolved before they get out of control.’
As well as keeping staff safe and well in the building, regular maintenance is cost effective. Taking the water example from above, Mike says, ‘it’s easy to see how finding and fixing the leak at an early stage, when it’s just a cracked roofing tile for example, would be considerably cheaper than fixing the roof, plus the office ceiling, plus any damaged equipment. Not to mention the disruption to the working day of the staff affected, which is another cost to factor in.’ Again, scheduled maintenance would have discovered this issue and dealt with it at the early stages.
Finally, there’s another really important reason why you’d want to maintain your building on a regular basis – insurance. The financial ombudsman receives plenty of complaints from companies who’ve had their insurance claims rejected on the basis of the claim being deemed a maintenance failure, rather than an insured risk issue.
Mike explains ‘say a roof has been damaged in a storm, the insurance assessor visits and sees that the roof has not been properly maintained. So, they make the decision that the damage to the roof is the result of poor maintenance, rather than the storm, which is the insured risk the company is claiming under and the claim is rejected.’ This is, of course, the least desirable outcome to this scenario, not only has the company being paying for insurance that’s, effectively, void, but they’ll have to stand the cost of the repairs too.
When these three important issues are taken into account, maintaining your building effectively really does make sense.