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Staines Fire – could neighbours deny your access?

Blazing buildingsParts of Staines High Street remain closed following a substantial overnight fire at the Renshaws industrial Estate in Staines. The precise cause and source of the fire are as yet unknown, but there have been accounts of explosions, and business owners are reportedly facing ‘ruin’ following the blaze; local news has highlighted the extensive damage across the site.

The fire highlights the importance of awareness of the hazards that exist in the vicinity of businesses, and an understanding of whether they could impact you, such as through a denial of access or services.

Neighbours’ Hazards

It is critical to understand what your neighbours are doing, and whether what they are doing may present a hazard to your business.

As an example, as advised by the Health and Safety Executive, oxy-acetylene cylinders that have been exposed to a flame ‘pose a risk to anyone in their vicinity and it is strongly advised that they should not be approached until they are made safe. It is recommended that an area of 200 meters around the heated cylinder is evacuated immediately and the Fire and Rescue Service (FRS) is called straight away’.  Other such hazards could include the transport and/or storage of hazardous chemicals used by neighbouring organisations.

What infrastructure work is being undertaken in your area?  There are countless examples where power has been cut due to cables being severed by diggers; even last night we had a slight power cut at home when someone drilled through a live cable…..

Regional Hazards

There are extensive sources of information about more regional hazards, with one useful source being local publicly-available Community Risk Registers.  These detail hazards in, for example, a county area, with the likelihood for each hazard being assessed by the relevant lead agency.  Thus, as an example, the Met Office will asses the risk of torrential rain, whilst the Environment Agency will assess fluvial flooding risks.  Additionally, there are other useful sources on the lead agency websites, such as for flooding.  It is always surprising how few businesses have heard of such resources.

What you can do?

A simple assessment of the hazards in the area will help to understand the risks to your business.  You will need to implement some mitigation, such as maintaining off-site back-up, ensuring access to critical phone numbers, including both customers and suppliers, and developing effective business continuity and incident response plans.  Your business may only have a single site, but maintaining effective communications with your clients may give you the breathing space to get re-started, so communications (web, email, phone and social media) has to form an essential part of your business continuity capability.

Are you ready?: Contact Cambridge Risk Solutions today on 0800 035 1231

Written by Helen Molyneux