A fire can be catastrophic for businesses — it can threaten the safety of employees and members of the public, destroy expensive equipment and ruin your brand’s reputation. And most workplaces will have a number of fire risks. Many of these could be avoided if fire safety was properly managed, and our latest article looks at fire safety at work and how employers can reduce the risk.
If you are an employer or you own premises, you have a legal duty to make sure that your workplace or premises and the people who work there are kept safe from fire and its effects. You can do this by:
- Carrying out a fire risk assessment for your workplace
- Using the risk assessment to find out who might be especially at risk if there was a fire (you must keep a record of this information if you employ five or more people)
- Providing and maintaining the necessary fire precautions to protect the people who use your workplace
- Providing information, instructions and training to your employees about the fire precautions in your workplace
What is fire protection?
Fire protection measures are crucial to save people and property. Measures include fire evacuation plans, fire detecting systems, fire alarms, fire exit signs, emergency lighting, fire extinguishers and sprinklers. These alert people to the fire and help people to escape safely. They can also enable people to extinguish a fire before it spreads.
Fire emergency evacuation plans determine the actions people should take in a fire emergency. This means that duty holders can be confident about their responsibilities during an evacuation.
Maintain electrical equipment
Faulty, overloaded, electrical wiring or appliances cause fires. To prevent these electrical fires, an organisation must repair or remove all faulty electricals, and prevent overloaded sockets. In addition, a competent person must regularly inspect any electrical equipment.
Ensure good housekeeping
Workplaces must be kept clean and tidy. Any waste should be removed. Clutter, grease or dust pose a fire hazard. Greasy or dusty equipment can overheat and flammable materials (cardboard, wood, plastics, fabrics) can fuel a fire. Therefore an organisation must store and control waste materials properly so that they do not pose a fire hazard.
Employees are not allowed to smoke in the workplace at any time. This is not only to reduce the number of cigarettes people smoke per day, but to increase fire safety in the workplace. By having no lit cigarettes in the workplace, you are automatically reducing the fire risk associated with it. Workplaces aren’t required to provide a smoking shelter for employees, but we’d recommend having one so smokers are able to go to a dedicated area that has a place they can properly stub out and dispose of the cigarette stubs.
Creation of PEEPS
A Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP) is an individual plan created for those who require assistance or special arrangements in order to safely evacuate a building in an emergency, such as a fire. A PEEP is used to help ensure that those who need assistance get the specific help they need, and that those around them are aware of what they need to do to help during an evacuation. For example, a specific fire marshal may be responsible for laying emergency mobility ramps to help a wheelchair user get down a small set of stairs.
Fire warnings for the hard of hearing
As a matter of course, an audible and visual alarm system should be installed. The audible system emits a ring, klaxon, or siren sound, and a flashing light beacon when activated. Extra light beacons should be installed in corridors, or rooms where the alarm is still audible, but the hard of hearing would not be able to see the beacon. Additional safety features should be included. Personal beepers or vibrating pagers should be issued to the hard of hearing if possible.
Fires can have devastating effects but effective fire safety measures and procedures can reduce the risk of injury and save lives. For further information on fire safety at work, please contact us here.