Everybody can contribute to fire safety in the workplace by maintaining a cautious attitude and routinely checking extinguishers and smoke alarms. After all, a tiny spark can spread uncontrollably without due care and attention, damaging your property, assets and staff! Heat and smoke protection should always be a primary consideration in the management of your building. Updating your fire extinguishers and installing plenty of smoke detectors on every floor is an excellent place to start. Still, somebody must ultimately ensure that your workforce takes the threat of fire and smoke seriously.
So, who is responsible for fire safety in the workplace?
YOUR LEGAL OBLIGATIONS AS AN EMPLOYER
From a legal standpoint, both the building owner and the employer are held accountable for fire safety measures on any premises. The Industrial Safety and Health Act of 1974 provides actions that employers must take in protecting their staff to comply with the law. Steps incorporate fulfilling risk assessments, adding adequate fire safety equipment throughout the building, and training employees.
Before you can determine who will monitor fire safety in the workplace, you need to understand expectations. If you haven’t recognised the fire safety standards, you’ll struggle to meet them. Let’s break down these responsibilities! Here’s what you need to do to ensure your business is compliant.
APPOINT A RESPONSIBLE PERSON
As previously mentioned, business owners and building owners are legally obliged to ensure fire safety on their premises. However, we recognise that employers and property managers aren’t always present on-site to assess safety equipment and provide continual support. Appointing a responsible person is the straightforward solution! A senior staff member can absorb fire safety duties and arrange smoke detector maintenance and fire door inspections on behalf of the business.
Any measures introduced by the responsible person must be respected and supported by the remainder of your workforce. Employees must cooperate with any instructions you give, for example refraining from propping open fire doors. Disobedient staff are liable should any unfortunate incident occur.
COMPLETE A FIRE RISK ASSESSMENT
To develop a fire safety strategy, you’ll need to complete investigations noting the flammable hazards on your building premises. A risk assessment means a thorough inspection of every room in your building, whereby you’ll identify every threat to the health of your employees. Examinations note dangerous chemicals, electrical equipment that could short circuit, and combustible materials.
Your responsible person can complete fire risk assessments personally, but hiring a professional is worthwhile. You’re more likely to miss hazards and leave risks unaddressed without dedicated training. In contrast, experienced inspectors know precisely where to look for faults.
INSTALL RELEVANT FIRE SAFETY EQUIPMENT
Your workforce must consider your fire risk assessment and maintain appropriate safety measures to counter every hazard. Under the Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order 2005, fire doors must be installed, inspected and fixed annually at the very least. Working fire doors are a legal requirement in any non-domestic property and play an enormous role in fire stopping. Depending on the type of building, the responsible person can determine how often inspections feel appropriate.
Always prioritise equipping rooms with higher fire risks, such as kitchens or chemical storage rooms. Extra fire extinguishers, accessible fire doors and plenty of smoke detectors can be the difference between life and death. On top of this, the maximum distance between two smoke alarms in your property should be no more than thirty feet, or areas in your building will go unmonitored. Vulnerable, unprotected sections of your property could allow a fire to spread too far for you to extinguish it.
CONTINUALLY MAINTAIN SAFETY MEASURES
Fire extinguishers are useless when the canisters are empty or misplaced. Equally, smoke detectors can’t protect your staff if they’re dead or faulty. Your responsible person must set aside time to service and repair your fire safety measures, or they’re pointless. You must be prepared to fund maintenance and hire specialists to repair your fire safety equipment as an employer. Funding adequate servicing or repairs will be less costly than refurbishing your building after a fire, so avoid the hassle.
On top of routine maintenance, you should assess new equipment or materials you introduce to your premises. New items or decorations within your business premises can introduce unknown risks, so you’ll need to fit additional fire safety measures to protect staff. PAT testing falls under the umbrella of necessary upkeep, or you may face an electrical fire. The job is never finished.
OFFER FIRE SAFETY TRAINING TO ALL EMPLOYEES
You have a legal obligation to provide fire safety training upon induction when you hire an employee. Training should include tips for fire prevention, a demonstration of handling safety equipment and explaining the building’s escape route. Although regular staff members aren’t legally accountable for the overall fire safety of your premises, they can help to ensure good housekeeping. Plus, without an exceptional fire safety session, you can’t demonstrate you value the well-being of your employees.
Annual refresher sessions are advisable. Your workforce can easily forget your fire safety arrangements, so training isn’t a tick-box exercise. Your responsible person should also arrange lessons as new fire safety measures are installed, such as unfamiliar fire extinguishers or an automatic sprinkler system.
ENLIST THE SUPPORT OF A SPECIALIST
You can share the stress of ensuring excellent fire safety when you work alongside an experienced professional. If you’re unsure how to develop sensible escape routes or where to place fire doors, you needn’t fret! Qualified fire safety companies won’t only complete fire risk assessments. Still, they can also advise and complete changes you ought to make to the property. Suggested adaptations will secure the health and safety of any occupants. Additionally, professional fire alarm or fire door companies are insured so that you can receive compensation in the unlikely event of an error.
For added peace of mind with your commercial property’s fire safety and security, contact us at Target Maintenance. We can support your business with fire stopping measures, fire protection contracts, inspections, and survey assistance.