- November 17, 2021
- Posted by: Ace Shelters Team
- Category: Smoking Shelters
We all know the dangers of smoking, but we also know that smoking and vaping are still a part of life for many, and our members of staff are no exception. Whilst there is no legal obligation to provide a special place for them to indulge in a cigarette, there are many good reasons to consider installing a smoking shelter at your place of work. With this in mind, isn’t it preferable to acknowledge the truth and provide somewhere for the committed smokers on your team? Rather than fighting it, it may even improve the productivity, morale and team cohesion of your workforce.
The total ban vs acceptance
You are not under any obligation whatsoever to cater for the members of your staff who chose to smoke in the workplace. UK law is very clear on this. You are, however, under a legal obligation to protect your smoke-free members of staff from secondary smoke inhalation. A total ban on smoking is often considered to be the best way to avoid this but it can be counter-productive and even create more problems than it solves. Smokers on total ban sites are forced to leave the site entirely to smoke, which can take longer than their breaks allow. In some workplaces, it may even prove to be dangerous to leave the confines of the site, particularly if you are situated near a busy road or on an industrial site. Clandestine smoking is an even bigger safety risk which should not be ruled out. This could have very serious implications indeed, not least a hefty fine for you as manager or business owner. It is for these reasons that employers often chose to provide a clearly marked shelter. For businesses where vehicles are involved, smoking in cabs can be lethal due to the nature of the lorry load so this aspect cannot and should not be overlooked.
The classic time and motion study
Increasingly, smokers have been criticised for spending too much time away from their work to feed their habits whilst the virtuous non-smokers labour away indoors. Without a designated shelter, your staff may be forced to smoke outside your place of work, in the car park, or even in their cars. This takes time and also sends out a negative message about your company as they smoke outside your place of business, which may cause some customers to take offence, which will damage your corporate image. With a designated shelter, you know how long your staff will be gone and you know where they are, which has to improve efficiency and sends out a clear message about what is and isn’t appropriate. There can be no excuses if there is a shelter on site.
Health and safety
It goes without saying that it is better for the health of one’s staff not to smoke. However, a designated shelter may be a great place to encourage them not to. Making smokers gather in one place to smoke sends out a clear signal that their habit is unwelcome and that it is causing them to be segregated. Some posters or leaflets placed in the shelter about the dangers it contains may also deter them further. Furthermore, from a fire safety perspective, all danger is contained in one identifiable place, making less work for your fire safety risk assessment. As an employer, you are under a legal obligation to make sure your staff are not exposed to passive smoking, so a shelter eliminates this risk for your non-smoking staff members. Furthermore, in case of a fire alarm or accident, knowing that your staff are either on the job or in the smoking shelter could actually save lives. This is a win-win situation for all involved.
All staff would wish to feel their needs are being met in the workplace and providing your staff with a designated smoking shelter does tick this box for the smokers on your team. Any smoker will tell you that relationships are often made and extended over a cheeky cigarette so this can also aid morale amongst your staff whilst giving them protection from the elements, meaning they are not miserable and wet when they come in after their break. An outdoor shelter also reduces the smell of smoke on their clothes which other people may find unpleasant to work around. From a recruitment perspective, potential candidates may appreciate a shelter, and those already on your team may be more easily retained, saving you time and money.
There is nothing less attractive than a bunch of furtive smokers lingering outside your place of work. There is also nothing less appetising than cigarette ends strewn outside your office and this will end up costing you money in terms of cleaning or even lost business. Poor corporate image can send out very clear signals about your commercial stance and how you manage your staff. Furthermore, any visitors to your site or business who smoke may prefer to do so in the comfort of a smoking shelter. Indeed, a stylish, well designed and cleverly located shelter can actually add value to your business whilst being attractive to look at. They are not expensive to erect, come in all shapes and sizes and should be easy to push through the planning permission process.
Can a shelter really raise productivity?
Employees in the UK are entitled to a 20 minute break away from their desks for every 6 hours worked. Whilst an employer is not under any obligation to provide cigarette breaks, it stands to reason that an irritable smoker in need of nicotine will not work well or even safely. Allowing your staff the privilege of smoking on site should, therefore, help your smoking staff to focus on their jobs more clearly than if they were not permitted to smoke on site. It is this give and take attitude which oils the wheels of productivity in the workplace and should make less work for you in the long run.
At Ace Shelters, we are the leading manufacturer of aluminium smoking shelters, offering both wall-mounted and standalone shelters at affordable prices. Invest in your workforce with a smoking shelter from our range today.