There are many legal requirements pharmacists must comply with. Aidan Welton looks at some of these affecting the use and occupation of the pharmacy property itself…
Asbestos are fibrous materials that occur naturally in the environment. Historically asbestos was used in buildings for insulation, flooring and roofing due to it providing protection from heat, fire and sound. Since discovery that asbestos can be hazardous if disturbed or damaged, the use of asbestos materials has been banned in the construction or refurbishment of any buildings.
Any existing asbestos materials must be managed by pharmacists under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012.
Pharmacists are required to determine whether asbestos is present in their pharmacy or is likely to be present and manage any such asbestos. In practice, this will mean arranging a risk assessment/survey to identify any asbestos and having a written action plan for management
The regulations require a proportionate approach to be taken. As a result, the level of assessment/survey required should reflect this. If the pharmacy is a small shop requiring little maintenance, a walk-through inspection may be adequate.
Where extensive works are being undertaken at a pharmacy, a more detailed refurbishment and redevelopment survey may be required, involving a more detailed inspection and sampling of any asbestos.
Failure to comply with the Asbestos Regulations constitutes a criminal offence with penalties ranging from up to six months imprisonment or a fine of up to £20,000. The pharmacist also runs the risk of future claims from employees harmed by exposure to asbestos.
Air conditioning reports
As part of the government’s programme to tackle climate change and reduce greenhouse gases and carbon emissions, legislation was put in place to ensure regular inspection of air-conditioning units. This is because as air conditioning units can be harmful to the environment and cause damage to the ozone layer.
The Energy Performance of Buildings (England and Wales) Regulations 2012 impose a duty on pharmacists to have inspections of air-conditioning units carried out at least every five years. The inspection will be carried out by a surveyor who will produce a report that will assess the efficiency of the unit and provide recommendations for improving the energy performance of the system. It may also provide advice as to maintenance or repairs.
A report is required even if the unit is not in use. Enforcement is dealt with by the Local Weights Authority and punishable by a fine of up to £300.
Energy performance certificate (EPCs)
An EPC is a certificate produced by an energy assessor which shows information about the energy efficiency of a property. EPCs are now governed under the Energy Performance of Buildings (England and Wales) Regulations 2012.
An asset rating, stated on the EPC, places the property on a sliding scale between A and G, with A being the most energy efficient and G being the least energy efficient. The regulations require EPC’s to be produced for a property when it is being rented out or sold. This would include where a pharmacist sublets part of his property. EPCs may also be required when works are carried out at the pharmacy.
The penalty for failing to comply with the regulations when selling or renting a pharmacy is generally set at 12.5 per cent of the rateable value of the pharmacy. The minimum penalty is £500 and the maximum, £5,000. A further penalty can be issued for failure to provide a copy of the EPC when requested to an enforcement officer.
Fire risk assessments
Obligations relating to fire safety are set out in the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order. Pharmacists are responsible for fire safety in relation to both the internal pharmacy and the external areas such as car parks, loading bays and pathways. Landlords would be responsible for compliance in relation to any common areas.
Under the order, pharmacists are required to carry out a fire risk assessment and keep this under review. The standard to which a risk assessment must be carried out is “suitable and sufficient.” This means any assessment should be proportionate to the size of the pharmacy.
Pharmacists are also required to take general fire precautions to ensure that employees, customers or any other person lawfully in or in the vicinity of the pharmacy are safe and to make and give effect to fire safety such as maintaining fire safety equipment.
The Fire and Rescue Service enforce the order and have the power to inspect pharmacies and serve notices of non-compliance requiring remedy action to be taken. In more serious cases, they can restrict the use of the pharmacy.
As indicated above, pharmacists are required to comply with all of these legislative provisions. Further, should a pharmacist be looking to sell their pharmacy business, any buyer will insist on evidence of compliance being provided before the sale completes.
This article was first publised in pharmacy business on 15 August 2018.