There is a wide range of legislation that you should be aware of. The following is an outline of some of the key pieces of legislation that may apply to your business. The list is not intended to be exhaustive.
Security alarm legislation
The Private Security Industry Act was introduced to regulate the private security industry. The installation of security systems is not a licensable activity but if you offer 'key holding' services where you respond to the triggering of a security system or operate as an alarm receiving centre and your role comes within the definition of manned guarding then you will need to be licensed by the Security Industry Authority (SIA).
Alarms are covered by British Standards and you should check that all items you install conform to the appropriate standard. Your suppliers should be able to confirm this if you are in any doubt. In addition, the police should be contacted to see if there are any conditions on the use of audible alarms in your area. Remotely monitored alarm systems require a Unique Reference Number (URN) from the police and these systems can only be installed and maintained by businesses that are accredited by either the National Security Inspectorate (NSI) or the Security Systems and Alarm Inspection Board (SSAIB). Visit their websites for further details on gaining accreditation.
The Institution of Electrical Engineers Wiring Regulations (BS 7671) is the principal British Standard that covers the safe design, installation and testing of electrical installations in the UK. In addition, specific British and European Standards also cover the installation of fire alarms, lighting systems and security systems. All security system installation work that you carry out should be done to these standards.
Health and safety
The Health and Safety at Work Act and the numerous 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
- safety, maintenance and use of electrical equipment (power tools, for example)
- access to first aid equipment
- adequate provision and use of protective clothing and equipment
- reporting of any accidents and injuries at work
Further information and guidance leaflets on all aspects of health and safety are available on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland (HSENI) websites. You can also get help and advice from your local authority environmental health department.
Fire safety is very important and if you have business premises you must carry out a fire risk assessment (and write it down if you have five or more employees). Your local fire authority can advise you about this.
You must ensure that your and any employees' exposure to potentially harmful substances is minimised. This might involve precautions such as using dust masks and goggles when drilling into walls or ceilings, or ensuring that ventilation is adequate if using paint or adhesives.
Goods and services
There is a range of legislation that applies to all businesses, which protects the interests of the customer. For example, goods and services must not be misleadingly described. This includes the supply and fitting of security systems - you are responsible for ensuring that appropriate equipment is used and that it is installed correctly. All work done must be of satisfactory quality.
Anyone employing staff must comply with employment legislation. Important pieces of legislation that 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.
Equality and discrimination law
You must not discriminate against anyone because of their age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion, sex or sexual orientation. This applies to every aspect of your business operations, from taking people on to dismissing them. You may need to make reasonable adjustments to your premises and working arrangements so that you don't unfairly discriminate against disabled people.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission and Equality Commission for Northern Ireland websites contain further information on your legal duties.