Whilst Insurers have to date applied a degree of flexibility on how long a property can remain unoccupied since initial lockdown due to Covid 19, this stance varies from Insurer to Insurer, so if your own premises remain unoccupied, you need to ensure you are meeting the requirements of your own specific policy.
We would also encourage you to take appropriate risk management measures whilst your property or site remains unoccupied, matters to consider are detailed below:
- Are there any contents or stock of an attractive nature or high value, which could be removed from the premises or additionally secured? In addition to valuables, do you have any cash that you can remove from the premises?
- Can the equipment be removed from site to a more secure location?
- Can the equipment be locked in a secure cupboard or a more secure room?
- Are vehicles stored at the premises? If so, ensure keys are removed from unattended vehicles and secured in a locked store in a separate building to that where the vehicles are stored.
- Do you still have powered up computers/servers to allow staff to work remotely?
- Have you thought about good housekeeping measures, such as the presence of combustible content around operative computers and equipment?
- Is it possible for heating to be maintained on a frost stat or water pipes drained down and isolated (unless supplying water for sprinklers or other firefighting systems)?
- Is your pest control up to date – rodent issues chewing through cables, etc?
- Where combustible waste and pallets cannot be removed from site can they be moved away from the building, ideally up to 10 metres from the perimeter of the property?
- Are keyholding details for intruder alarms up to date?
- Are these being updated if those attending fall ill or are otherwise incapacitated due to Covid-19 related issues such as local lockdown, isolating or self-quarantining following a return from overseas travel.
- Is it possible to regularly inspect the premises in line with current Government guidance, with any damage found and rectified? Safety aspects around lone working should be considered and if possible, arrangements put in place for other staff members to step up to this in case of incapacity.
- Can you contact ‘essential’ neighbouring premises where people are still working to share your details and ask them to get in touch should any issues arise?
- Unplug and isolate non-essential electrical equipment (including forklift truck charging units) for the duration of the lockdown
- Heating should be maintained at 4˚ C or above where wet sprinkler systems or other water-based fire suppression systems are installed
- Isolate any non-essential building services
- Ensure fuel tanks for essential services are full and topped up – all other fuel to be removed/drained down (gas, heating oil, etc.)
- Electrical equipment should be turned off and unplugged and electrical systems isolated at the main fuse board, with the exception of critical business infrastructure required to allow continued operations and support temporary home working arrangements. Critical equipment includes electronic security protections used to protect your property
- Ensure air conditioning/cooling for computer servers, etc. is in place and functioning correctly
- Waste / pallets / combustibles away from building – 10m where practicable
- Close internal doors, especially fire doors
- Security measures fully used:
- Intruder alarms set – check to ensure detectors are not obscured
- CCTV cameras not obscured and working effectively
- Doors and windows locked
- Shutters locked in place
- Security lighting fully operative
- Fences in good condition
- Gates locked shut
- In terms of alarms/CCTV response, ensure your ARC is operating normally and they have your most up to date contact details – consider any staff that are off sick, isolating, furloughed, etc. Are they also still able to provide a full service? Do you need to consider a change to your normal response? Consider PPE for employees responding to alarm call outs (and lone working)
- If your security systems are time activated – outside business hours only operations – has this been changed to 24/7 operation?
- If you have guards/patrols/key holding services – are they operating as usual?
- Do any access control systems need modifying?
- Report any evidence of attempted entry, damage, etc. to the police
- Unoccupied Buildings should continue to be the subject of appropriate Risk Assessments, including an up to date Fire Risk Assessment and where necessary the local fire service kept informed of premises that are unoccupied/reoccupied. (For example where flammable products are being stored)
About the author
Mark Brannon Cert CII is a respected industry leader with over 17 years’ industry experience in a variety of roles within the business insurance sector. He works across a wide spectrum of insurance product and policy development, delivery and optimisation for clients, including claims, insurer relationships, marketing and communications, and risk management.
Read more articles about business premises
- Guidance on restarting your business after lockdown
- Working safely when re-opening businesses
- Flush out water supply before reopening buildings to avoid potentially deadly legionella bacteria
- Employers duty of care as businesses begin to emerge from lockdown
- Health and safety and employment law advice ahead of returning to work