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Business gas: small businesses risking gas safety errors

UK SMEs are at risk from the dangers of gas leaks and carbon monoxide. Analysis of the research and some simple advice could save your business and your life.

A recent survey of senior managers with responsibility for energy at small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) found that 20% had experienced health and safety issues with its boilers or business gas appliances. The British Gas research found that one in five had experienced potentially life threatening health and safety issues such as a gas leak, carbon monoxide leak or an unsafe appliance.

These problems translated to a monetary loss, with 14% of businesses suffering lost trading hours, 11% lost revenue and 14% having to buy a new boiler or appliance.

Cheap business gas at the expense of safety?

Ensuring gas appliances, gas pipework and flues are maintained in a safe condition is a legal requirement for all employers under the Gas Safety (Installation & Use) Regulations 1998. Landlords must also complete annual safety checks and provide on-going maintenance.

Perhaps because of the pressure to keep business gas prices low, 17% of SMEs admitted they don’t have their gas appliance checked at least once a year by a qualified gas engineer.

These well-known time constraints are perhaps also in evidence in a clear lack of understanding about gas safety. The real wake-up call was the question of what to do immediately if gas is smelled on business premises. A staggering 41% said they would switch off the electrics, an extremely dangerous move that could spark a gas explosion.

Valuable time would be wasted by the 16% who would try to work out which appliance was leaking gas, while 1% would make perhaps the worst decision possible by shutting all windows and doors to keep the gas inside the building.

Dying for business gas supplies

As well as basic business gas supply misunderstandings, secondary risks are also being overlooked. More than one third (36%) admitted that they didn’t have a carbon monoxide alarm fitted on their business premises. Businesses are advised to install an alarm if the boiler or gas appliance is near somewhere that is habitable, where people work or rest or near a bedroom.

“It’s crucial that businesses take gas safety seriously,” said field service manager at British Gas Business Vincent Thomas. “I’ve seen some alarming stuff over the years in all different types of businesses – from factories to nursing homes. When something goes wrong it can stop a business in its tracks and have a serious effect on finances, staff and customers.”

Stay business gas safe: top tips

  • Maintain and service your gas appliances and pipework on an annual basis
  • Get a Gas Safe Registered engineer qualified to work on commercial gas appliances and pipework to do any gas service, installation or repair
  • Keep a record of any gas work carried out
  • Take out a service plan if your business relies on heating or gas appliances
  • Install a carbon monoxide alarm in your property. If you are a landlord you can buy them online and have it delivered direct to your tenants to install themselves with minimal effort.
  • Look for signs of staining, soot or discoloration on, or around your gas boiler, fire or water heater. These can be signs of carbon monoxide. Keep vents in doors, walls or windows clear to ensure gas fumes can safely escape your business.
  • Know the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning, which can be similar to the flu.
  • Stop using the appliance immediately if you notice anything wrong, open windows and doors to ventilate your business. You should also seek medical advice.

Business gas prices

If you also want to get the best business gas rates, just 20 minutes is enough for us to quickly compare business gas suppliers and switch you to a new deal (with us taking care of the paperwork). Give us a call on 0330 0100 251 (or request a call back using our form).

You can also find out more about business gas at our dedicated page.

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