When a team of tradesmen are hired to carry out work on on a commercial building, it’s important to not only think about the design and desired result, but about the health and safety of the employees who will later work in the building too. Whether it’s the look of a car garage, a car park, an office block or a factory that needs improving, there are a number of considerations that need to be factored in…
Fire is a health and safety hazard for every business, which means that fire proofing is essential in a work space. Firstly, you should think about the soft furnishings in your work space: carpets, curtains, fabric blinds and fabric chairs can be highly flammable, so why not try using fire retardant fabric sprays on these materials? Also, fire doors should be fitted in the premises or standard doors should at least be coated with a layer of fire resistant paint.
Smoke detectors, fire extinguishers and fire alarms must be installed to ensure that the work space complies with the government’s health and safety regulations too, and if a sprinkler system is being installed, it will need planning into the refurbishment at the appropriate point.
Finally, a re-designed work space might look the part, but if it doesn’t contain an adequate number of emergency exit points at suitable positions, the design won’t be good enough. Make sure that exit routes are plentiful and properly signposted.
Commercial buildings (particularly those that were built before the year 2000), are likely to contain asbestos in some form. Asbestos is a highly dangerous material for people to work around, and is especially dangerous for tradesmen or contractors who come into contact with: the fibres from asbestos can settle in lungs, causing asbestosis and mesothelioma.
Tradesmen should take care when drilling, removing, cutting or sanding structures in a work space: the materials used for fire protection, insulation or textured coatings often contain asbestos. Contractors should only carry out work involving exposure to asbestos if they’re trained, licensed and insured to handle it.
The surface of a work space is a very important consideration too. While a work area can be cleaned using chemically appropriate materials to reduce the risk of slips, it might be better to just repair or replace the floor altogether. Use an anti-slip coating on surfaces to help to minimize the risk of trips and falls, or add a layer of coloured anti-slip paint to brighten up a work area while adding decoration, durability and protection.
Noise and ventilation
In work areas that become excessively noisy (for instance, where cartridge operated tools or heavy machinery is used) it might be necessary to install barriers or protective screens around equipment or areas where noisy processes are carried out. Also, adequate ventilation is essential for work areas such as car garages, factories or warehouses, or anywhere else chemicals and fumes pose a health hazard.
There are many more safety considerations to think about when improving the look of a work area (such as not trailing cables across walkways, ensuring there’s adequate lighting to provide an even lighting level across work areas, and accounting for changes in surface levels using tread markers or other markings), so be sure to work closely with site managers and designers when carrying out refurbishments.