Fire Safety: Keeping Your Workplace Safe

Nebosh By Andy Taylor

When it comes to safety in the workplace, fire safety is a massive consideration for any employer. Ensuring that your employees are safe from the risk of injury or death from fire and its consequences should be amongst your highest priorities and reducing the chance of damage and loss to buildings and property is also very important.

Who is Responsible for Fire Safety in the Workplace?

Of course, everybody has a responsibility for helping to ensure fire safety within the workplace, but the main people who would take overall responsibility are:

  • The Employer
  • The Occupier
  • The Owner
  • The Landlord
  • Other people in control of the building such as a management company, agent or facilities manager

It is often the case that the responsibility for fire safety is actually split between a number of these people.

What are your responsibilities?

As the person or people who are responsible for the fire safety of the workplace, you collectively have a set of factors which you are responsible for. These include:

  • To carry out a fire risk assessment on the building and make sure that it is regularly reviewed.
  • To make sure that staff or their representatives are aware of the risks that you have identified in your fire risk assessment.
  • To put the appropriate fire safety measures in place and maintain them.
  • To devise suitable plans for fire emergencies.
  • To provide training, information and fire safety instructions to all staff.

To be able to carry out all of these responsibilities in a thorough and effective way there is a fair amount of information that is needed.

Training courses such as the NEBOSH National Fire Certificate will be able to give you all of the information that you will need, to be able to legally, effectively and successfully carry out all of your fire safety responsibilities.

By carrying out a course like the NEBOSH National Fire Certificate, you will learn about how to successfully identify and deal with fire risks and hazards in the workplace, the UK legislation with regards to fire safety at work and how to effectively carry out a thorough and effective fire risk assessment.

Earning this qualification will also allow you to apply for Technician Membership of the Institute of Fire Prevention Officers (IFPO), or, with the right amount of experience, the IFPO Fire Risk Assessors Register.

Fire Safety Plans

Once that the fire risk assessment has been carried out the next most important responsibility that you would have, would be to construct fire safety plans. These would include how your staff would evacuate the workplace, including any special arrangements which would have to be made for people with mobility issues.

Your fire safety evacuation plans should show:

  • A clear pathway to all of the escape routes
  • Escape routes that are clearly marked to staff and visitors and as short and direct as possible
  • Enough routes and exits for everybody to escape in a short space of time
  • Emergency doors which are easily opened
  • Emergency lighting where it is needed
  • Training for all employees to know, understand and use the escape routes in your plan
  • A safe meeting point for staff outside of the building

Fire Equipment

Another responsibility in the workplace with regards to fire is that you have the appropriate fires detection and fire fighting equipment. The requirements here will vary according to the building itself and what activities are being carried out within the building. However, there are a number of aspects that you should consider:

  • All equipment must be properly installed, stored and maintained
  • All equipment must be regularly checked
  • You might need to train staff on how to use fire equipment
  • Fire alarm systems should be regularly checked that they are working properly
  • Emergency lighting must be regularly checked to ensure that it is working properly
  • Any faults in systems and equipment should be recorded
  • All escape routes must be checked regularly that they are clear and that the floor is in good condition
  • All fire escapes must always be easily opened
  • All automatic fire doors must close correctly
  • All fire exit signs must in the right place

You should also carry out regular fire drills – and ensure that all new staff is trained on fire safety on their first day. Records should be kept of all of this and kept with all of the other fire safety paperwork.

Fire safety is something that every employer should take very seriously. Being neglectful of the fire safety in the workplace could not only bring problems to you and your business but, much more importantly, put lives at risk.

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