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Stay safe in the workplace this Christmas

The countdown to Christmas has begun and, with most festivities cancelled last year, many workplaces will be looking forward to bringing a festive feel to their working environment in 2021. However, it can be easy to forget about health and safety and compliance at this time of year.

Dan Lee, Managing Director of phs Compliance, says putting up Christmas lights and decorations, which are not normally part of the workplace, brings with it new risks and hazards that must be considered first.

“It sounds obvious, but it is surprising how many businesses forget that Christmas lights and decorations need to be considered as part of health and safety and compliance procedures in the workplace.

“After all, Christmas lights are an electrical item and should be treated in the same way as any other electrical item, like kettles or printers, which need to be regularly checked to ensure they are safe to use. It is a legal obligation.  You may want to have them PAT tested before using them, especially if they have been in the back of a cupboard for two years because of the pandemic. The end of the year is a great time to book your PAT testing, so why not incorporate them into the annual PAT test of all your portable electrical appliances and start the new year with some peace-of-mind?

“It is easy to get carried away at Christmas and one of the most common things we see is overloaded plugs. Unfortunately, if a plug is over its capacity it could easily start a fire so it’s really important not to take the risk.

“General health and safety matters should be a high priority when putting up decorations in any case. Ensure there are no trip hazards, keep wires tidy and secure, and make sure that decorations don’t block escape routes like fire exits or any safety signage. It’s also important to ensure decorations are safe and secure to avoid fall hazards.

“If in doubt, talk to one of our team and get some advice to ensure you are staying compliant this Christmas.”

phs Compliance is one of the UK’s leading providers of workplace compliance and building engineering services, offering everything businesses need to stay safe and compliant.

Fully accredited by all leading industry regulatory bodies, phs Compliance has the largest team of specialist statutory testing operators in the industry. It provides statutory electrical services including testing (including PAT tests and fixed electrical testing), inspection services, maintenance, and remedial work. As the UK’s leading provider of electrical testing with nationwide coverage, phs Compliance ensures workplaces of all sizes stay safe and compliant. It is part of the phs Group.

phs Compliance also offers a comprehensive project design, installation, commissioning and maintenance service for fire and security systems.

Accredited to the highest standards, phs Compliance offers significant experience, technical expertise and nationwide capability to support customers’ capital expenditure project needs for fire systems and security systems.

phs Compliance also offers expert project management services, including the design, supply and installation of everything from power and lighting to electric vehicle charging points.

With over 400 engineers across the UK, phs Compliance delivers more than 14 million compliance inspections for 35,000 customer sites nationwide every year.

www.phscompliance.co.uk

5 Minutes With… Dan Lee, Managing Director at phs Compliance

In the latest instalment of our FM industry executive interview series we spoke to Dan Lee (picture above, far right), Managing Director at phs Compliance, about the company, the ongoing effects of the pandemic, increased post-lockdown demand for FM services, automation and why having a wellbeing strategy is important…

Tell us about your company, products and services.

phs Compliance is one of the UK’s leading providers of workplace compliance and building engineering services, offering everything businesses need to stay safe and compliant.

Fully accredited by all leading industry regulatory bodies, phs Compliance has the largest team of specialist statutory testing operators in the industry. It provides statutory electrical services including testing (including PAT tests and fixed electrical testing), inspection services, maintenance, and remedial work. As the UK’s leading provider of electrical testing with nationwide coverage, phs Compliance ensures workplaces of all sizes stay safe and compliant. It is part of the phs Group.

phs Compliance also offers a comprehensive project design, installation, commissioning and maintenance service for fire and security systems.

Accredited to the highest standards, phs Compliance offers significant experience, technical expertise and nationwide capability to support customers’ capital expenditure project needs for fire systems and security systems.

phs Compliance also offers expert project management services, including the design, supply and installation of everything from power and lighting to electric vehicle charging points.

With over 400 engineers across the UK, phs Compliance delivers more than 14 million compliance inspections for 35,000 customer sites nationwide every year.

What have been the biggest challenges the FM industry has faced over the past 12 months?

The uncertainty around the pandemic has been a big challenge. The different lockdowns, lower occupancy rates in buildings and the work from home orders have forced the FM industry to relook at almost every factor in the built environment to find new strategies.

And what have been the biggest opportunities?

We have been able to build even closer relationships with current and new customers as we help them navigate their way through these challenging times. Our business critical services have really supported customers and helped them to meet their regulatory requirements and stay compliant.

What are the main trends you are expecting to see in the market in 2021/22? 

As businesses continue to reopen, we are seeing an increased demand for services that may not have been able to be carried out during lockdowns. This will undoubtedly bring some challenges given the current labour market, but we are confident that with strong account management and clear communication, we can work closely with our customers to ensure full compliance.

What technology is going to have the biggest impact on the market this year?

I would definitely say automation. We are always looking for ways to improve our customers experience and our visibility.

In 2022 we’ll all be talking about…?

The economic outlook.

You go to the bar at the Facilities Management Summit – what’s your tipple of choice?

A pint of lager followed by a bottle of red wine!

What’s the most exciting thing about your job?

I’d say it’s the people I work with every day – those in the field, back office and all of the support teams. The loyalty and dedication I saw during the pandemic was exceptional.

I was also particularly pleased to see our communication and wellbeing strategy recognised as outstanding in a recent engagement survey.

And what’s the most challenging?

It has to be the current labour challenges and the recruitment of skilled electrical engineers to support our exciting growth plans.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

You have 2 ears and 1 mouth for a reason; use them wisely…

Making the move to an electric vehicle fleet

Investing in electric vehicles is a big commitment, and with the ban on the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles just a few years away, it is a challenge many businesses now face. However, there is more to think about that just the investment in the vehicles themselves.

Dan Lee, Managing Director of phs Compliance, a leading provider of workplace compliance and building engineering services, says businesses need to ensure they have the right infrastructure in place early on to ensure a smooth transition for their fleet.

“Businesses also need to consider on-going maintenance and their compliance obligations as part of their planning,” he advised.

“A key consideration is your electric vehicle charging points – or EV points.  How many EV points you will need will depend on several factors, including the number of employees or customers, how often your employees need to use their car during the day, the number of off-road parking spaces that are available to you and, of course, budget.

“You’ll also need to think about the type of charging points needed. It’s best to choose charging points that are the most compatible with the widest range of electric vehicles, but this will vary depending on the business and what vehicles you choose. A specialist like phs Compliance can advise you on this.

“Always ensure you use an installer who has been fully approved and accredited by the UK’s Office for Zero Emission Vehicles, also known as the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV), to install an EV charging point to ensure a safe and compliant service. Like any electrical installation, it requires expertise to install safely.

“And once installation is complete, the ‘duty holder’ is required by law under the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 to ensure that all EV charging points are safe to use and do not pose any danger to users, just like any other fixed electrical installation.  It is recommended that EV charging stations are tested every year, although more regular testing and inspections may be required if they are heavily used.

“These are all important things to consider as part of the wider strategy. Now is a very good time to plan and start making the investments needed as the government’s Workplace Charging Scheme (WCS) is providing businesses with vouchers that contribute up to 75% of the up-front costs of purchasing and installing electric vehicle charging points – up to the value of £350 per socket for a maximum of 40 sockets – if you use an OLEV approved installer like phs Compliance.”

phs Compliance supports all electrical infrastructure requirements for electric vehicles including the design and installation of EV points and regular maintenance to protect equipment and ensure compliance, with inspections and testing services carried out by experienced and fully qualified engineers across the UK.