As many merchants showed solid growth and impressive expansion through 2017 with the addition of new branches, continued success is dependent on forward thinking and forward planning.

With the thought of growing turnover and anticipating expanding profit margins it’s all too easy for the company focus to be on recruitment, renovation, financial, legal, product supplies and logistical considerations with health and safety taking a back seat.

For a successful start to the opening of a new branch we recommend you consider the following:

 1. Asbestos

If you are purchasing the building you will be responsible for managing the risk of asbestos that may be present in that building. Any building built pre-2000 would need to be surveyed to check for the presence and condition of asbestos and a management plan produced so you can manage it going forward. This is particularly relevant if you plan to refurbish the building at any point as you need to ensure you are not putting contractors or employees at risk of exposure. Alternatively a survey may have been completed as part of your due diligence but with no resultant management plan or copy held on site its purpose is easily forgotten.

  2. Fire

Prior to the opening of a new branch a fire risk assessment should be undertaken to ensure fire detection, warning, fighting and evacuation measures are in place so employees and customers are not put at risk.

  3. Staff Training

You may be acquiring staff experienced in the merchant sector or new to the industry. Either way they should all be given induction training relevant to their role. Yard staff in particular should be trained promptly and we advise this is simplest to complete through Southalls Safety Cloud e-learning in modules such as workplace transport, manual handling, banksman and fire safety.

  4. Refurbishment and Renovation F10 notification

Under CDM Regulations, construction work requires F10 notification to the HSE if it is lasting over 30 days, 20 people or 500 man hours. Many companies aren’t aware of this legal obligation and surprise visit from the HSE can lead to costly delays in progress.

  5. Site layout  

Savvy merchants will forward a copy of a site plan to us prior to opening to get feedback on site layout. Important considerations are vehicle – pedestrian segregation and effective layout to reduce vehicle and people interaction.

Ian Hatherly, Operations Director of Southalls comments, “All too often we see companies in a panic because they find their newly acquired building to be riddled with asbestos that requires costly removal or we receive last minute phone calls for support to conduct a fire risk assessment of a building or to conduct an audit to assess workplace risks as this has been forgotten in the busy run up to the opening of a new branch. Our intervention before branch opening can save a lot of unnecessary stress and costly mistakes.”.

To discover how Southalls can transform safety standards across all your merchants’ sites, book a free consultation with one of our sector specialists. You can find out more about our tailored solutions for Builders Merchants here.