Fire safety in the workplace

It’s a business owner’s responsibility to ensure the building is a safe environment for all staff and that, importantly, it meets all the required legislation and health and safety standards.

Ensuring fire safety at work is crucial and should never be overlooked. That means every effort must be taken to implement the certain procedures, as well as ensure all the correct fire safety equipment is installed. Here, we take a look at the main considerations employers and building owners should bear in mind when it comes to fire safety in the workplace.

Start with a risk assessment

Similar to health and safety assessments, fire risk assessments must be carried out regularly and kept up to date. This assessment is legally required and will closely look at the premises and assess the likelihood of a fire breaking out and the potential causes and results of that would-be fire. The assessment will identify fire hazards and the people at risk and evaluate whether existing fire safety measure are adequate. The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order (2005) requires the ‘responsible person’ of the premises to carry out a fire risk assessment – and nobody knows more about the premises than the business or building owner, which makes them ideal for carrying out the assessment. Once it’s been done and hazards and dangers identified, the correct fire-fighting equipment must be installed.

Install appropriate fire safety equipment

Every effort should be made to ensure fires – accidental or otherwise – are prevented. Common sense actions like keeping sources of ignition and flammable substances apart and ensuring heaters can’t be knocked over, for example, should be employed alongside installing the correct fire-fighting equipment for the premises. To that end, fire safety in the workplace is dependent on the industry and environment the business operates in. Fire extinguisher type is specified according to the type of fire likely to break out in that environment. Hospitals, offices and schools, for example, would be more likely to have CO2 extinguishers on site (because of the amount of electrical equipment used within their buildings), while commercial kitchens would benefit from the MultiCHEM.

The importance of signage in an emergency shouldn’t be underestimated. In the UK, it’s compulsory to ensure all emergency exits are visible with clear access. Signs can help people quickly locate exits and provide direction to help them safely off the premises. Similarly, fire extinguisher ID signs help with quick location of vital fire-fighting equipment.

Sharing fire safety plans and raising awareness

Ensuring all staff and users of the building are aware of fire safety plans and expected actions and behaviour in the event of a fire is almost as important as installing the equipment itself. A fire escape plan will only be successful if it’s well-communicated. Evacuation plans should detail several escape routes and emergency exits and advise how they should be used. Employers should make sure regular training and fire drills are carried out – this way, everyone will have confidence in their actions should an emergency situation arise.

Workplace fires can have devastating consequences for any business. Incorporate all legal requirements in day-to-day working and ensure all staff are trained in (or at the very least aware of) fire safety programmes, and the likelihood of fire breaking out will be drastically reduced.

The content of the CheckFire blog is for general information purposes only. While we make every effort to ensure accuracy at the time of publication, under no circumstances should it be considered professional advice. Any reliance you place on the information is at your own risk. Always seek the advice of a fire professional for your particular circumstances and requirements.

  • by Bruce Robins

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