Opening closed buildings back up for use

In April I wrote an article sharing tips on the maintenance of work equipment and the expectation of the
HSE during these restricted times. I decided to add a bit more to this because there may be businesses
that have closed their buildings entirely for many weeks and are wanting to re-open for business.

As part of the re-opening plan implementing physical / social distancing measures along with additional
sanitization will need to be thought through, I discussed this within my previous article about risk
assessment and control measures:
(link: )

However physical checks on both the building/premises and the management systems should be
implemented before (or as part of) startup that are non-COVID related aspects, but are vital in ensuring
the health and safety of employees and those you have responsibility for. These might include:

Firstly, you might want to start with having a thorough walk around the outside of the premises
identifying potential hazards such as your security equipment integrity or any breaches to fencing, is
there any overgrown vegetation near fire exit routes or vegetation build up that might be causing a fire

Check any externally stored work equipment such as ramps, gas storage cages or waste containers are
they still in good condition and secured?
Do you need to contact your pest control company to do an extra check before start up to control the
risk of any biological hazard to workers?
What about your draining system? Does this need checking depending on your business type?

Then inside:
You should consider your water systems – is your legionella risk assessment and in-house checking
system up to date and logged including both the drinking water system and/or any cooling towers or
work equipment?

– If you don’t have this make sure all water outlets (taps, toilets, showers) are flushed through for about
10 minutes to change the water and reduce risk to workers health.
Have your air conditioning or mechanical ventilation systems been adequately maintained to ensure
they don’t introduce any health risks into the workplace?
Electrical portable appliance testing may have fallen out of date, especially for those items taken out on
site that are construction related.

Make sure that your Fire Safety equipment such as fire alarms and emergency lighting are in date for
their servicing agreements, then follow up with in-house testing (don’t forget to log them!) and plan a
fire evacuation practice covering any newly revised staffing arrangements or shifts to make sure
everyone has been considered. (If you need any help updating your Fire Risk Assessment or emergency
evacuation plans, just let me know).

General management aspects:
Other aspects that came to mind were:

  • Checking fire doors open easily and seal closed and that extinguishers are present and in good
  • First Aid kit expiry dates – are all items present and still in date?
  • Spill kit contents, are they still in good order and all items present (especially ones stored

Don’t forget to check fridges or freezers for temperatures, cleanliness and old food content!… I
don’t want to think too much about this!

Work equipment and statutory testing… I wrote an article on this before which you can refer to:

Make a list of any work equipment you have that falls into this category and work through the list to
make sure you are ahead of the game. Include things such as: Lifting Equipment; Pressure Systems;
Local Exhaust Ventilation equipment (extraction); Vehicle maintenance/MOT; Gas appliances; Fixed
mains electrical testing.
If you need any help with this, I am happy to help!


Pollard Safety Services
Darfield, Barnsley, South Yorkshire S73 9JT
Tel: 07956 552343, Email:


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