Various pieces of legislation may apply to your aerial services business, particularly in the areas of health and safety and possibly employment law.
The following is an outline of some of the areas which may well be relevant to your business. The list is not intended to be exhaustive.
Health and safety legislation
Installing and repairing aerial equipment at height is potentially a very hazardous activity, so it's very important that you keep up to date with health and safety regulations.
The Health and Safety at Work Act and many regulations made under it cover all aspects of workplace health and safety. Employers have a duty to ensure the health and safety at work of all their employees. Those with five or more employees must prepare a written health and safety policy statement. Some key areas where health and safety regulations affect your business, particularly if you employ staff, include:
- working at height
- lifting heavy items
- working on and near to electrical systems and equipment
- use of electrical equipment (power tools and so on)
- use of drilling and cutting equipment
- access to first aid equipment
- adequate provision and use of protective clothing and equipment
- reporting of any accidents and injuries at work
The Work at Height Regulations cover all work done at height where there is a risk of falling that could cause personal injury. The Regulations place very specific duties on both employers and self-employed workers to make sure that all necessary safety precautions are taken when people are working at or above a certain height. Duties include:
- assessing all risks
- planning and organising all work at height properly
- making sure all people involved are competent, and all equipment used is safe and appropriate
Further information and guidance leaflets on all aspects of health and safety are available on the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) and Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland (HSENI) websites, and from your local authority environmental health department.
Anyone employing staff must comply with employment legislation. Important pieces of legislation which you must be aware of include:
- The Employment Rights Act
- The National Minimum Wage Act
- The Working Time Regulations
The employing people section of the Gov.uk website includes information and guidance on all aspects of employment legislation. Information for businesses in Northern Ireland is available on the NI Business Info website.
Estimates and quotes
You'll often be asked by potential customers for information about what you'd charge to do a particular job. It's important that you make it completely clear about whether you're giving them a quotation - a legally binding agreement to do the work at a specific price - or an estimate, which isn't binding and is just an approximate idea of what you might charge.
If you're in any doubt about your obligations under contract law, you should get some professional legal advice.
General consumer protection legislation
Special regulations exist to protect consumers from dishonest traders, 'cowboys' and others who rip off the general public - for example by claiming to belong to a trade association or hold a particular qualification when they don't. There is detailed information on many different aspects of consumer protection legislation on the Trading Standards Business Companion website.
Voluntary codes of practice
Although not legally binding, voluntary codes of practice are designed to encourage minimum standards of quality and service among traders who sign up to them. The CAI has several codes of practice for installers, and requires its members to stick to their terms.
Sources of further Information
Most trade associations can advise their members about regulatory issues that affect them. The CAI, for example, publishes a guide to health and safety in the aerial installation industry. More information about this and other useful publications is available on the CAI website.