By Claire West

Leading environmental health consultants, Perry Scott Nash Associates Ltd, is urging pubs, clubs and restaurants to ensure that everyone has a merry Christmas this year by paying heed to their health and safety responsibilities.

Janet Cox, Client Services Director at Perry Scott Nash, says that it’s all too easy for the right procedures to go out of the window at such a busy time, but warns that the consequences could be costly.

“After what’s been a difficult 12 months for the licensing trade, everyone is hoping for a bumper Christmas”, comments Janet. “Extra customers and big parties all bring more profit, but they also put more pressure on businesses and premises, so it’s important to ensure that all staff are aware of their duties and how to respond in any given situation.

“We’d strongly recommend that everybody ensures that their employee’s training is up to date before the rush begins and that every aspect of the business is checked thoroughly.

“Training should include food hygiene and managing fire safety and evacuation, particularly at times when there are likely to be increased numbers of customers in the premises; basic health and safety and the importance of management licensing conditions, especially those relating to capacity numbers and noise management.

“Other key areas to focus on are ensuring there are no slip, trip or fall hazards, as these are the cause of the majority of accidents in licensed premises. At this seasonal time of the year the amount of food stored often increases, which can put more pressure on equipment so it’s also important to ensure that all equipment is working correctly, including fridges and freezers where food is stored. And don’t forget to keep the cellar tidy with crates and barrels stacked safely.”

To help the licensing trade to remember to do all that’s required, the company has put together a ‘12 days of Christmas’ safety advisory document, because, as Mrs Cox, explains, getting it wrong could be expensive.

“You can guarantee that environmental health officers will be out in force over the Christmas period. Anyone who overlooks their legal responsibilities to their customers — whether by accident or on purpose — could face a large fine, loss of licence, or even immediate closure and prosecution.

“And that’s one Christmas present nobody wants.”