Keeping records is a key part of running a business. Even with technological advances made in storing documents electronically, businesses often accumulate mountains of paperwork every year. Legal requirements are that the records of business operations should be archived for at least 7 years and be available for inspection by any authority or staff member who needs to refer to an original document.
This means that these records must be kept in a safe place, in an environment where they won’t be spoiled, and kept so that they can be accessed easily.
At Stop & Store Lowestoft, we cater for a large cross section of businesses who find our storage units ideal for the archived storage of documents. For example, a building surveying company stores all their archive paperwork with us as they are required to hold them as part of their legal requirements for several years.
This is quite common with other professionals such as solicitors and accountants who generate a large amount of paperwork to use self-storage. But it’s not limited to these professions, and self storge units have become a popular and cost-effective solution to the problem of having to keep old records of a business.
Let’s look at the requirements of storage of archived documents.
Solving the Space Problem
The steps to follow when archiving records are straightforward. When records become inactive (normally after a year or so) good business practice is to archive them. It’s a good idea to put some procedures into place.
- Identify records that need to be archived, with a policy of when to do so
- Have a control method of how they are to be stored
- Put in place a procedure for their retrieval and ultimate destruction
- Identify the appropriate place of storage (e.g. self storage unit)
- Equip the place of storage appropriately (shelves and boxing)
One of the most convenient methods of storing inactive records of a business is using self-storage. The simple reason for this is that it’s cheaper to do so and is a convenient way to safely store archived paperwork.
As this is a legal requirement, the entire process of keeping records in a safe, accessible place is the responsibility of the business owners.
Besides the physical security required for the storage of archived documents, there are several important considerations that need to be taken into account relating the storage environment itself.
The big advantage of a self-storage unit is that archival materials are not exposed to any form of light. Ultraviolet light, visible or infrared light will damage any documents, causing them to fade or become structurally weaker. As self-storage units have no possibility sunlight or UV light entering them, and any fluorescent light is kept under the key holder’s control, they offer excellent storage conditions for archived documents. Always ensure that the lights are turned off when the storage unit is not in use.
As an added protection to your documents, boxing them is an inexpensive way of protecting them further from any possibility of exposure to light.
The Effects of Damp and Temperature Fluctuations on Document Storage
To guarantee the longevity of archives, it’s necessary to store them in a cool dry storage area. There should also be air circulation between the records boxes and between the shelves.
Storage units are generally cool which is an advantage for the storage of archived documents. Places of high temperature and humidity are known to cause damage to documents.
When paper absorbs moisture, it will expand or go mouldy. This is a type of fungus that will damage paper and cause the documents to weaken and disintegrate. It’s advisable to always check for mould when storing archived documents. It is also harmful to humans, so care should be taken with the fungus if it is found.
Archived documents should also be stored in places that are free of pests. Mice or fish moths will chew at paper, or even find convenient places to makes nests in them. At Stop & Store Lowestoft, our storage units are frequently fumigated, and the existence of any pests regularly checked, which will give the assurance that the stored documents are protected from pests.
General Storage Legislation Requirements
It’s important to know that there are some requirements by law that should be followed in the storage of archived documents:
- The place of storage must be safe from unauthorized entry by intruders and covered by an alarm system.
- Access to the unit must be strictly in the hands of authorized personnel
- When stored on a ground floor, windows covered by shutters, bars, or mesh.
- Ideally the place of storage should be quiet, away from contractors or activity
- The archived records must be clearly referenced and easy to find
- Records must be kept of visits to records and their access controlled by a responsible person.
- If authorities require records in storage, it’s an idea for them not to remove records. If they are, this needs to be recorded
The control of records is important as any missing document can result in unforeseen difficulties for the business. Therefore, the person ultimately in charge should be trustworthy and responsible.
One requirement of a business is to keep good records for purposes of governance. In many cases records that are older than a year become inactive and need to be stored. Not only that they need to be easily accessible in case they are needed for some purpose.
While storing records in office space may seem logical, most business owners and professionals look to finding more cost-effective storage solutions for their archives.
We at Stop & Store Lowestoft provide the perfect solution for records that need to be archived. Give us a call to discuss any questions that you may have if you intend using a self-storage unit to hold your inactive records.
Our units are safe, secure, dry, pest controlled and ideal for this purpose.
Call us at Stop & Store at 01502 580005 or visit us at 92 Demark Road Lowestoft, NR32 2EH