Fire safety in the workplace can be translated to ‘preventing chaos in a dangerous situation and saving lives’. In the moment of a fire, you need order so that you can handle the chaos that it brings effectively. And that comes with planning and practice. Nobody wants to be responsible for a disastrous fire.
What this means is that appropriate diligence, planning and compliance are vital for the safety of people. And if you’re a business owner or an employee, you have an obligation morally and professionally to understand and stand up to your fire safety responsibilities.
Life is a unique treasure that will never be repeated which is why risk-taking when it comes to fire should never occur.
Here’s what you need to know, to maintain appropriate fire safety practices in the workplace.
Fire Safety Regulations in the UK
Because of the dangerous nature of fire, there are stringent fire safety regulations in operation throughout the UK. These regulations are usually carried out through ‘fire safety in the workplace’: meaning that if you own, manage or operate a business in the UK. You will need to comply with Fire Safety Law and Regulations.
The information we cover in this article will help you understand the essential fire safety requirements regardless of your location in the UK so that you can ensure that your fire safety in the workplace is compliant with current legislation easily.
Though it’s necessary to bring your attention to the fact that Scotland and Ireland’s fire safety legislation will differ slightly to the fire safety legislation in England and Wales. Which means that you must adhere to the law in place for your location to comply with your fire safety regulations fully,
- The primary regulation you should pay attention to in England and Wales is the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (also known as ‘The Fire Safety Order‘).
- In Scotland its the Responsibility for complying with the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 and the associated Fire Safety (Scotland) Regulations 2006.
- In Northern Ireland, you’ll need to comply with Fire Safety Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2010.
What are the Fire safety Instructions for the Workplace?
The Fire Safety Order can be confusing and sometimes contradictory, which is why anybody responsible for fire safety in the workplace must take appropriate fire safety training.
Proper fire safety training is how you can cover all bases in the case of fire and fire prevention and ensure you are compliant. More importantly, it ensures that your employees, colleagues, customers, clients, visitors and residents are all safe in the case of fire too.
The Fire Safety Order 2005 was revised to simplify the existing fire safety legislation, but it can still be confusing in places. The critical points in the Fire Safety Order 2005 cover the following:
Every workplace or business must designate a ‘Responsible Person’.
This person is responsible for ensuring that all duties required to comply with your fire safety in the workplace legislation are carried out.
The Responsible Person is also obligated to ensure that they take action to prevent fires, or prevent harm or death during a fire.
The role of ‘Responsible Person’ is serious, and should only be fulfilled by a person who has received fire safety training and takes their responsibilities seriously.
In larger businesses, the Responsible Person may turn to a professional fire safety service to help them comply.
Risk Assessments & Fire Safety Log Books Must Be In Place
To ensure fire safety in the workplace, you’ll need to have fire risk assessments in place, and a fire safety logbook. These are important because they reduce the risk of fire and hold the employer accountable for keeping everybody safe.
The risk assessments and fire safety log books are also the first things that will be inspected by the fire authority if they show up to inspect your premises.
However, if you have less than four employees, you don’t have to have a written risk assessment though it won’t hurt to have one – you never know when it might come in handy.
You Must Provide Appropriate Fire Fighting Equipment
The right kind of fire fighting equipment is necessary to comply with fire safety legislation.
In most cases, you’ll need to have portable fire extinguishers relevant for the type of fire you will likely experience.
But other businesses may require more specialist fire fighting equipment, such as a restaurant or factory using flammable liquids.
Law requires fire Safety Signs
Don’t be one of the many businesses that overlook this part of fire safety in the workplace, especially when they are easy to attain. All companies need two signs minimum though depending on the type of business you may need more.
The two fire safety signs all businesses need are:
- A Fire Action Notice – which explains what to do in the case of fire.
- A Fire Extinguisher ID Sign – explains and identifies the location of each type of extinguisher.
Additional types of fire signs you need to consider are:
- Fire Exit Signs – Showing how to exit in the case of fire.
- Alarm Call Point Signs – This shows where to activate the fire alarm.
Fire Alarm Systems Should Be In Place For Larger Businesses
You won’t need a fire alarm system if you have small premises and can quickly notice a fire and raise the alarm by shouting to any colleagues or customers.
A shop or small office (not situated in an office block) is an example of a small business.
If you wouldn’t be able to notice a fire or raise the alarm by shouting, you’ll need a fire alarm. This is because fire safety law requires an ‘appropriate fire detection system‘.
Emergency Lighting Is Vital
You’ll need to ensure that emergency lighting is in place to provide light if the standard lighting could fail during a fire.
Typical areas you’ll need to illuminate are:
- The Escape Route
- Open Area Lighting (for communal areas – to reduce panic).
- High-Risk Task Area Lighting – To ensure you can shut down any dangerous machinery where a fire could enhance the danger.
Fire Safety Training Saves Lives
Everybody in the workplace should understand fire safety in the workplace. All employees should know what to do in case of fire and be refreshed regularly (at least annually).
In addition to fire safety training, you’ll need to update your workforce if there are changes to the building or legislation. You must also carry out fire drills regularly and appoint Fire Marshals to assist in keeping everybody safe in case of fire.
Typically, a Fire Marshal will :
- Apply the fire extinguisher if they are close to the fire.
- Call emergency services.
- Assist in evacuating people from harm’s way.
Fire Marshals should undertake fire safety training conducted by professionals.
Why is Fire Safety Training Important?
In any kind of emergency, your reaction and speed are vital. The correct action, promptly taken without hesitation, could save lives and prevent damage to property, which is the reason why we need fire safety training.
It’s not only necessary because it’s the responsible way to handle a fire – it’s a compulsory requirement of the fire safety regulations.
The good news is that it’s entirely possible to take a fire safety online course which can be incredibly convenient!
Why is Fire Safety so Important in the Workplace?
The last thing you need in the case of fire in the workplace is a bunch of panicked people who don’t know what to do. That’s a recipe for disaster. Fire safety training is vital in the workplace so that everybody understands what the risks are. Your employees should know who should do what, when and why they have to do whatever it is that they need to do during a fire.
This way, anybody who is not a Fire Marshal or the Responsible Person will safely and quickly leave the building, and the fire will be contained quickly.
Take a moment to imagine what would happen if a fire breaks out and ten people run to raise the alarm and then become blocked in by the fire? How will the fire service know where they are inside the building?
Even worse, what happens if the alarms don’t work or the emergency lighting doesn’t switch on.
Some structures are complex, old and potential fire hazards by their very makeup. It’s necessary for people in such buildings to leave the building without becoming lost, trying to be the hero, or taking the wrong way out and potentially running into the fire.
Many buildings in the UK are interconnected with other buildings, especially in older buildings. By ensuring fire safety in your workplace, you could prevent things from escalating further and affecting other people and businesses nearby.
The best way to ensure fire safety in the workplace is by ensuring appropriate fire safety training is carried out, and a fire safety plan is made and executed. It’s a simple solution to a potentially complicated emergency situation.
How to make an ideal fire safety plan?
If you take the online fire safety training, you’ll discover that it covers all aspects of fire safety such as:
- Creating and implementing compliant fire safety procedures.
- Staying safe in the event of a fire.
- Fire prevention – which, is the ideal scenario!
An emergency plan is a perfect way to ensure you’ve addressed everything necessary to ensure optimal safety and fire prevention in the workplace.
To do so, you’ll need to ensure you have plans to address the Fire Safety Order. Here’s an 11 step basic emergency plan which you can use to get started:
11 Steps for Fire Emergency Plan
Step 1: Ensure your fire detection system is suitable and regularly tested.
Step 2: Create a process for identifying and dealing with false alarms (to avoid complacency and calling the fire brigade when there’s no fire).
Step 3: Clearly define who calls the emergency services and what they’ll say.
Step 4: Make a plan to ensure all passageways to escape routes are clear at all times, including those outside of the premises.
Step 5: Ensure that all routes and exits are suitable for employees to escape quickly and safely at all times..
Step 6: Signpost all escape routes, always.
Step 7: Put emergency lighting in place, and create a plan to check it works frequently.
Step 8: Make sure all emergency doors are easy to open and unlocked when the business is open.
Step 9: Provide appropriate training to ensure all employees know how to escape in the case of fire.
Step 10: Set up a safe meeting point for staff, and communicate the meeting point to all employees.
Step 11: Make a plan for how anybody who cannot move about easily can escape quickly – such as wheelchair users, people who can’t hear alarms, or with visual impairments.
It’s common for most people to think ‘it won’t happen to us’ but in reality, fire could just as easily break out in your premises as it could anywhere else. It’s never worth taking a risk on something if you can’t withstand the potential losses and the potential losses from a fire are significantly high. Make your life easier by seeking to comply with fire safety regulations.