The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Services (NI) order 2006 came into effect in November 2010, replacing previous regulations regarding the requirements and procedures concerning Fire Risk Assessment in Northern Ireland. The new order requires anyone with responsibility for the management of a business premise, to take reasonable steps to minimise the risk of fire and to ensure that a safe and orderly evacuation can be effected in the case of a fire.
The Fire Service have identified a number of premises to which the order applies including:
- Offices and shops
- Premises that provide care, including care homes and hospitals
- Pubs, clubs and restaurants
- Places of worship
- Educational establishments including schools
- Theatres and cinemas
- Sports centres and other community premises
- Hotels and hostels
- Guests houses and bed & breakfast accommodation
- Shared areas of properties common to several households
- Houses of multiple occupation
- Factories and warehouses
- Tents and marquees
- Transport premises and facilities
- Animal premises and stables
- Open air events and venues
The act requires an organised and methodical assessment of the premises, identifying and minimizing any potential fire hazards or threats. Although there are no formal rules around how the assessment should be carried out, it should be a ‘reasonable’ and considered approach. Whilst some businesses will carry out their own fire risk assessment, there are established companies who specialise in offering this service to ensure that companies are in compliance.
With ambitious targets to reduce the amount of waste we put into landfill, businesses are coming under increasing pressure to dispose of their waste in more environmentally friendly ways. For many businesses, particularly those that handle large volumes of cardboard or plastic, investing in a waste baler can often result in significant cost benefits, as well as allowing the company to do their bit for the environment.
Waste balers take large volumes of materials such as cardboard and plastic, and compact them into a tightly packed bale which can then be sold on to recycling companies for a profit. So not only does the business reduce the cost of their waste disposal, they actually get paid for disposing of their waste in this way.
There are a variety of different sizes of balers, ranging from small vertical balers handling small volumes of weight and producing 50 – 250kg bales and suitable for smaller retail premises, right through to Horizontal balers capable of producing bales of up to half a tonne weight.
Rent or Buy?
As with any significant piece of capital equipment, balers can be bought outright or on a baler hire arrangement. One of the advantages of hiring a baler is that he manufacturer is more likely to support and provide a warranty for the machine throughout the baler rental period.
The downside to rental is that it can work out slightly more expensive over the long run as the manufacturer will essentially need to finance the cost of the machine through their lenders and they are likely to pass this additional cost on to the end user. The upside is that it frees up more of your own capital to invest in your core business.
There are a number of changes happening in the waste recycling industry to make cardboard and plastic recycling an ever-more attractive proposition for business:
- Over time we can expect landfill costs to increase as government puts more and more effort into reducing the amount of materials we put into landfill
- As demand for cardboard increases, the price available to businesses for the sale or disposal of their baled cardboard will continue to increase
- High oil prices are having a direct impact on transportation cost, making the transport of loose unbailed cardboard significantly higher than compacted baled materials
The effect of these 3 factors is that the size of a business that can justify investing in a waste baler is continually reducing.