As businesses enter a new year and decade, Stefano Tranquillo shares ten tips that can help companies better protect their properties and business operations

Fire, natural hazards and equipment breakdown cause billions of pounds in property damage and business disruption every year worldwide. Given the state of the economy many companies are more fragile than ever before. However, scientific research has proven that when it comes to property risks, which can be high severity events for businesses caught off guard, the majority of the resulting losses were preventable. Effectively addressing such business risks could be the best investment your organisation makes this year.

FM Global finds that the companies with the strongest risk management practices have ten qualities in common, which can provide useful learnings for businesses of any size.

1. Make your commitment to property loss prevention a firm and tangible policy for everyone across the company. This commitment isn’t solely the responsibility of risk managers or senior management but should be an inherent part of the company’s corporate philosophy. By fully embracing property loss prevention across all parts of the business, you ensure that your business is well-protected from all angles.

2. A building’s construction should reflect its intended purpose and the equipment it is likely to contain. Will your building be housing flammable materials? Are the walls and roof designed to withstand the elements to which they are exposed? If the use of combustible materials is unavoidable, have you considered the protection offered by fire sprinklers? These are just some of the issues that need to be considered when exploring a building’s design and construction.

3. Protect your business from the risk of fire by installing automatic sprinklers. Sprinklers are the most effective way for a business to combat the risk posed by fires, particularly in facilities where combustible materials are in use. Sprinkler systems not only detect and control a fire they also have the ability to transmit an alarm so that both emergency services and business owners know about a fire when it happens. Furthermore, a properly designed system directs water to the affected area only which helps mitigate the effects of water damage.

4. Account for the risks brought on by special hazards such as flammable gas and combustible dust. In facilities where flammable liquid is present or dust accumulates, facility owners need to consider the additional risks that these materials present. From isolating flammable materials to providing adequate ventilation, there is a wide variety of ways to reduce a facility’s exposure to these special hazards that often pervade a facility environment.

5. Establish a suitable water supply in case of a fire. Sprinklers lacking a continuous water supply with consistent volume and pressure will be less effective in combating fire.

6. Ensure that your fire protection equipment is well-maintained. Regular, recorded inspections of all fire equipment, be it extinguishers, hose lines, hydrants, alarm systems or even water tanks, should be carried out to ensure that the equipment functions when it needs to.

7. Good housekeeping goes beyond simple cleaning. While it’s obviously important for facilities to be clean, good housekeeping should also include procedures for effective waste disposal as well as a formal, clear system for staff to report problems.

8. Maintain buildings and equipment to a high standard. Well-maintained electrical equipment is far less susceptible to overheating and electrical fire. Facility equipment should be kept clear of grease, oil or dust accumulation to avoid machinery breakdown. Boilers and furnaces can be especially challenging, with regular checks necessary to prevent overheating or overpressure.

9. Establish an Emergency Response Team with clearly designated roles for the employees who are most familiar with the facility. This team should be tailored to the individual specifications of your facility and at a bare minimum regular training should be provided to members, as well as quarterly reminders of roles and responsibilities.

10. Don’t forget about what’s outside your facility. From flooding to windstorms to earthquakes, facility owners need to address the natural hazards to which their buildings are exposed. This also includes protecting your facility from the perils presented by surrounding buildings.

Stefano Tranquillo is operations manager, Northern Europe Operations, for FM Global