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Safety of Shop Signs, Awnings, Lighting & Decorations fitted externally to buildings

The Health & Safety at Work (NI) Order 1978

We have become aware of a serious incident which occurred at a retail premises in another Borough involving an external sign and awning which fell onto customers sitting beneath. In light of this incident, we are writing to retailers across the Borough to raise awareness of the possible hazards with these types of external fixtures.

All external shop signage, awnings, light fittings and decorations etc. must be designed by a competent person and be installed, operated and maintained in a manner that does not endanger and create a risk of falling onto persons beneath. You are therefore requested to check all external shop signage, awnings, light fittings, decorations etc. with immediate effect and if necessary, employ the services of a competent person to assess the safety of these external fixtures.

It is also essential if you have an external awning to conduct a risk assessment to consider the risks posed during normal use and reasonably foreseeable situations. The risk assessment should address the significant hazards for assembly, installation, operation and maintenance and ensure that appropriate control measures are in place.

We are requesting that you take the following steps to avoid similar incidents from occurring in the future and attend to this matter promptly:

• Check all external signs, lighting, awnings and decorations to ensure they are securely fixed;

• Carry out a risk assessment for the use of external awnings;

• If necessary, employ the services of a competent person if you have concerns about any external fixtures;

• Regularly and adequately maintain all external fixtures to your building.

We thank you in anticipation of your co-operation and should you have any queries or concerns please do not hesitate to contact this office by email at H& or by telephone on 0300 013 3333.

Yours sincerely

The Health and Safety Team, Ards and North Down Borough Council

Phone 0300 013 3333