Fire Safety in the Workplace – The Essential Things You Should Know
Fire safety is a very serious matter in the workplace. A fire can be incredibly dangerous and can cause serious injury and death, as well as destroy thousands of pounds worth of property and equipment in minutes. Fires are difficult to contain and they can happen very quickly. This is why it is crucial for employers to be able to prevent a fire in the workplace and know what to do if one breaks out.
Who is Responsible for Fire Safety?
It is the employer, landlord, owner or occupier of the business premises who is ultimately known as the “responsible person” when it comes to fire safety. This means that if you are in this role, it is your obligation according to the law to make sure that the building meets fire safety codes. This also applies if you have a property that admits paying guests, such as a bed and breakfast or a self-catering property.
What Are Your Responsibilities?
If you are the “responsible person” in your workplace it is up to you to ensure that a fire risk assessment of the premises is conducted. If any risks have been identified, all staff within the building should be notified. A fire risk assessment is no different than any other risk assessment, except it focuses on the potential causes of fire that might occur in the workplace. For example, you will need to identify where you handle and store any flammable substances so that you can avoid the risk of these being involved in a fire.
Also, you are responsible for putting into place and maintaining appropriate fire safety measures that will allow you to reduce the risk. It is your responsibility to create a plan to follow within an emergency, so that staff are aware of how to evacuate the building. You should also make sure that all staff are properly trained in terms of fire safety instruction and training. If there is more than one responsible person, such as in a shared building, it is necessary to coordinate your fire safety plans.
If you do not take responsibility for fire safety and do not follow safety regulations, you could get fined and go to prison.
Fire Safety Questions to Ask Yourself
When you are figuring out a plan for fire safety, there are a lot of considerations that you need to keep in mind. If you are the responsible person when it comes to fire safety in your workplace, here are some important questions that you should ask yourself.
- Does the building have an adequate amount of firefighting equipment, such as sprinklers, blankets and extinguishers?
- Have trained fire wardens been appointed, who will make sure that all persons are accounted for during an evacuation?
- Who will call the fire service? Who will meet them and show them the source of the fire?
- What are the building’s escape routes? Are they clear and accessible at all times? Does the escape route lead to somewhere outside and away from the building?
- Is fire safety equipment well maintained? When was the last time the alarm system was tested?
- Have you taken into account the needs of disabled people when planning your evacuation strategy?
- Are all doors on the escape route available for use without a key?
- Does your escape route have emergency lighting?
These are all important questions that you should ask yourself when making a fire safety plan for your workplace. The process of putting together this plan will be covered in more detail in the NEBOSH Fire Certificate occupational health and safety course.