Do companies need to evaluate their no smoking signs?
Posted by Nicole Stevens
With health and safety playing such an important role in the day-to-day operations of businesses, it is paramount that organisations assess the effectiveness of their no smoking signs.
Smoking has been banned in enclosed workplaces and public areas since July 1st 2007. Although the rule is now more than four years old, some businesses may still need reminders about the requirements of their no smoking signs.
Employers must be aware of the regulations and their implications, which could expose organisations to lawsuits and investigations by the Health and Safety Executive if rules are not appropriately and sufficiently enforced.
This could prove to be particularly detrimental in today's economic climate, where the threat of legal action may prove the straw that breaks the camel's back for struggling businesses.
Many people may be wondering how it is possible for no smoking signs to be used incorrectly, yet there are many factors to consider when installing them.
Firstly, the law states that signs must be erected in a prominent position at every entrance to smokefree premises, because it is a prominent place where it is highly probable employees and customers will see them.
These signs must include the international no smoking symbol, measured to at least 70mm in diameter, and carry the message: "No smoking. It is against the law to smoke in these premises."
Also, by law, vehicles must be smokefree if they are used in the course of paid or voluntary work by more than one person, while vehicles used for work purposes are legally required to display a no smoking sign at all times.
Despite this clear guidance, readily available to organisations both online and offline, there are still examples of businesses having got it blatantly wrong.
Last month, the Daily Mail revealed that landlady Dawn Lemm put up handwritten no smoking posters at her Judge and Jury pub in Colwyn Bay, North Wales, violating regulations which state that the signs must be rectangular, with the shortest side measured at a minimum of 6.3 inches.
Also, the sign did not include a graphic representation of a burning cigarette enclosed in a red circle with a red bar crossing the cigarette symbol, which is one of the aforementioned legal requirements. Miss Lemm received a £150 fine, in addition to extra costs of £120 and a £15 victims' surcharge.
To further reduce incidents of smoking on business sites, other measures can be enforced alongside no smoking signs, such as shelters.
For instance, Peterborough Today has reported how hospital visitors at Peterborough City Hospital are calling for a shelter to be installed in order to accommodate smokers.
The move was triggered by the Peterborough Local Involvement Network (LINk), after its survey found that 50 people have lit cigarettes outside the building's entrance, which many non-smokers believe is setting a poor image for the centre.
Sue Mitchell, assistant director for health improvement at NHS Peterborough, told the newspaper: "We intend to raise the profile of stop-smoking services across the city through targeted campaigns, as well as review other schemes currently in place to make sure they are accessible."
The hospital will work in conjunction with its Live Healthy, Live Green partnership board, focusing on how the profile of stop-smoking services can be raised, Ms Mitchell added. She also emphasised that the hospital is happy to explore any options that will help to boost access to the stop-smoking services.
The work at Peterborough Hospital highlights the efforts of organisations that wish to stop smoking on their premises, by going that extra mile. However, good will alone is insufficient defence in the face of a court case, so it is crucial that businesses get the fundamentals right first, by installing the legally required signage.
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