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Matilda Cassidy

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Blog: how to comply with fire safety at work

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In light of the recent news that Asda have been fined more than £55,000 for fire safety breaches they might have wanted to have a closer look at how to comply with fire safety.

Having an affective fire action plan in place can help your company to evacuate quickly and safely and help to minimise the risk of personal injury and damage to commercial property.
 
What does a comprehensive fire plan mean to your business?
 
Is it just a weekly fire alarm check with a map of an assembly point in the case of an emergency? If your business is based in the UK and has 5 or more employees then you are legally required to have a written Fire Risk Assessment of the business premises as part of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO).
 
The Fire Risk Assessment helps to have in place a more robust fire action plan that goes beyond weekly checks that your fire alarm is in working order. It dictates that a responsible person should be identified to ensure that there is a current fire risk assessment is in place and been carried out.
 
The risk assessment ensures that your company can react in a safe and efficient manner in case of a fire by addressing issues of escape, warning and fire fighting equipment.
 
Making sure your employees have a safe way to escape the path of a fire
 
Providing an effective escape plan helps your employees to exit the building quickly, safely and efficiently. An escape route out of the building should be free of any and all obstructions. It should be the most direct route to the emergency assembly point for your employees. Where possible there should also be alternative exits and fire doors in place to prevent the fire spreading to help your employees evacuate safely and to minimise risk to commercial property.
 
Informing your employees of the fire escape route and assembly point is the next step in an effective fire risk plan. Through training and fire drills employees will be able to identify the safest escape route and assemble at the identified point to help ensure everyone is accounted for. For new employees a health and safety tour that encompasses the fire escape route and assembly point should be carried out.
 
Effective signage that maps out the route and assembly point should be visible around the building.
 
Alerting your employees to evacuate
 
This is where your weekly fire alarm checks come in handy. By having a weekly fire alarm check, always at the same time so employees know when it is not a drill, employees will be able to recognise the fire alarm sound and react accordingly.
 
9am on a Wednesday no one wants to have an alarm ringing in their ears but the alarm needs to be heard over any and all other noises. The fire alarm also needs to be distinct so employees can differentiate between a security alarm and a fire alarm.
 
If you have hard of hearing or deaf employees having an effective alarm in place that will alert them to the fact that an emergency is occurring and to evacuate. By implementing Deaf Message Service (DMS) a deaf or hard of hearing employee or visitor can connect to the service by texting a location code that will then alert them by text in the event of a fire alarm sounding.
 
Ensure your premises is well equipped
 
Having several fire extinguishers in easy to access points around the building can help to contain the fire and minimise the risk to employees are commercial property.
 
Every business is different and extinguishers should be appropriately addressing the possible nature of the fire. For example, fires that are fuelled by organic material (wood, paper, etc) require a water extinguisher but electrical fires should be extinguished by carbon dioxide (CO2) extinguishers.
 
Training in the use of a fire extinguisher is also important to ensuring that your employees have the means to fight a fire in the event of one occurring on the premises.
 
By having an effective fire risk assessment you are ensuring the best possible outcome is achieved in the event of a fire. 
 

2 Responses

  1. Great Post

    The importance of fire safety is clear for everyone to see but some organisations take it more seriously than others. Hopefully these fines will help to make sure that companies are alerted to the importance of fire safey regulations. 

     

     

    — Dave Evans, commercial director at accessplanit, specialising in training administration software and learning management system.

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