25 Oct How To Prepare Commercial Venue For Pre-planned Gas Shutdown
A commercial premises that relies on its gas network to stay operating should have a contingency plan for when there is a pre-planned gas shutdown to limit the impact as much as possible on the business.
What is a pre-planned gas shutdown?
A pre-planned gas shutdown is when the gas network is switched off, so maintenance work can be carried out.
Customers will be informed of the power cut, so they have enough time to prepare for being without gas for several hours.
Although they can cause inconvenience, especially to businesses, as they do not want to lose money by potentially having to close, it is important these pre-planned gas shutdowns are carried out. They ensure the network is properly connected and everything is functioning as it should.
Without these checks, a problem such as a gas leak could go undetected until it is too late and people start becoming ill through carbon monoxide exposure.
Businesses will not want the first signs of a gas leak to be their customers or staff experiencing shortness of breath, dizziness and sickness, after all.
How can businesses prepare for a gas shutdown?
Therefore, while a pre-planned gas shutdown might impact business for a few hours, it is preferable to having ambulances turn up at the premises to take patrons and employees to hospital, which would severely damage the business’ reputation and cost them a lot more.
While they normally occur outside of opening hours to reduce the impact on customers, they may still cause some disruption if they last longer than expected.
So, what steps should you take to prepare for such an event so your business is affected as little as possible?
- Layer up
Although the gas should be functioning again by the time staff and customers arrive in the morning, it is a good idea to warn them to bring layers just in case it takes a while for the heating to kick in.
The weather is beginning to turn chilly now, so wear warm clothing and offer blankets, hats or gloves to those who need it.
Make sure you reduce heat loss as much as possible by closing doors and windows, keeping blinds or curtains shut if possible, closing doors to unused rooms, and using draught excluders.
According to the Approved Code of Practice on the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations, the minimum temperature for staff working indoors is 16C, while it is 13C if the work involves physical activity.
Therefore, if the central heating is not working when staff come into the building and the indoor temperature has fallen below these figures, businesses need to consider sending their employees home.
Of course, if your commercial premise has a swimming pool, you will not be able to heat the water without a gas supply. Therefore, hotels, spas and leisure centres need to contact customers and guests to reschedule their appointments.
- Use electricity
If your shutdown is only for the gas network, make as much use of your electric appliances as possible.
For instance, you could put electric heaters around the premises to keep customers and workers warm. If you have electric storage heaters, make sure these are in use.
Commercial catering businesses might need to change their menu to only include meals that can be cooked in an electric oven while the gas stove remains unavailable.
Instead of using hot water heated up by the boiler, you could boil water with a kettle as an emergency back-up option.
It is sensible to have plenty of batteries available that day in case the electricity network is affected too, and keep a mobile phone power bank fully charged to stay in touch with people.
- Double check the shutdown is pre-planned
Although it causes disruption to the business, having a pre-planned gas shutdown gives commercial gas engineers the opportunity to check everything is still functioning properly.
However, it is important to ascertain whether the gas power cut has been scheduled or if there is another reason why there is no gas supply in the premises.
If the central heating, hot water and gas stove stop working at the same time, for instance, it is imperative to find out why. It could be that an emergency shutdown had to take place, or there could be something faulty with the gas pipes or connection. In this case, it is sensible to call the gas supplier immediately to find out whether there is an area-wide power cut or if a commercial gas engineer needs to be called out to make emergency repairs.