Neglecting to comply with smoke-free legislation on your business’ premises is a criminal offence and could be fatal for both your business and its employees. Smoking in public places and workplaces is banned throughout the United Kingdom. While there are some exceptions, the vast majority of organisations must comply with smoke-free legislation or face heavy penalties.
As an employer, you have a legal responsibility to provide a smoke-free work environment to ensure your employees are shielded from the dangers of second-hand smoke, which include an increased risk of heart disease, lung cancer and respiratory diseases.
Smoke-free legislation applies to all ‘enclosed’ or ‘substantially enclosed’ workplaces, even if they are temporary. A workplace is ‘enclosed’ if it has a ceiling or roof that is wholly enclosed (excluding doors or windows). A workplace is ‘substantially enclosed’ if it has a ceiling or roof, but there is an opening in the walls that is less than half of the total area of the walls (not including doors, windows or fittings).
Smoke-free legislation extends to any of your organisation’s vehicles that transport members of the public or are used by more than one person for business or voluntary work. Note that Scotland has additional exemptions for cars, although all other work and public use vehicles, such as lorries and vans, must comply with smoke-free legislation.
Requirements for posting ‘no smoking’ signs on your business’ premises and in its vehicles vary by country. All UK employers must post ‘no smoking’ signs, but guidelines such as sign size, location and language are slightly different. Check with your country’s legislation for specific sign requirements.
While most people know and follow no-smoking regulations, there may be some that purposely flout the rules to smoke in the workplace. Because you are responsible for keeping your workplace smoke-free, you should be prepared to take action and ensure your business’ no-smoking compliance. Follow the steps listed below if you encounter a defiant smoker in one of your business’ smoke-free areas:
• Draw the person’s attention to the mandatory ‘no smoking’ signs and ask him or her to stop smoking.
• Explain that the person is committing a criminal offence by smoking in a smoke-free area.
• Remind the person that you have a responsibility to prevent smoking in smoke-free premises and vehicles and that you could both receive a fine.
• Consider not serving or providing services to customers who are smoking.
One slip-up in your no-smoking compliance could cost your business money and endanger your employees’ health.