Fire Safety in the Workplace: Getting Started
The regulations about fire safety in the workplace in England (and any non-residential area) are governed by the Communities and Local Government (CLG) for businesses in England. You must comply with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, or equivalent Governmental documentation if in another country.
You are expected to first carry out a risk assessment, or ensure one is carried out by a responsible party.
Based on the results of this assessment you are then expected to carry out any changes deemed necessary to make the area safe, implement any procedures necessary, and set up a management plan to maintain the fire safety of the workplace.
In order to carry out a risk assessment, forms can be downloaded from the Government’s fire safety website, with accompanying guides to help.
The form asks you to identify hazards such as sources of fuel or oxygen, members of staff that may be at risk, evaluating that risk and then detailing the changes made to reduce or remove that risk.
Actions & Plans
An evacuation plan should then be put in place, and all staff briefed fully on what they should do and where they should congregate after such an event.
Ensure that all plans are available for staff to review if neccessary, and ideally they should be displayed clearly on an office wall for the use of all visitors.
You can find a downloadable Word doc Risk Assessment Form here along with handguides on how to carry out the assessment here.
Risk reduction may include the installation of fire alarms and fire-fighting equipment such as extinguishers, appropriate to the kind of fire that may occur in your workplace and with regular maintenance and testing planned.
A professional and compliant fire-alarm testing company will provide scheduled checks of all equipment, asset registers, test data, instructions on how to test equipment between scheduled visits, and a log book for such tests.
Remember to consider the individual needs of your workers, such as those with disabilities. Consider also fire hazards from other buildings surrounding your office, and escape routes in this situation.
Ensure that your Fire Safety Plans and Escape Plans mesh with any Disaster Recovery Plans you may have, enabling staff to get to safety without being hampered by thoughts of any kind of data rescue.
You may also wish to consult those in the surrounding buildings, setting up a network and combined evactuation plan that means alerts on fire hazards can be quickly communicated between offices and result in a safer overall reaction.
You also may need to coordinate with other offices or nearby houses to arrange that a telephone is nearby in a safe place, allowing staff to call the fire service.
You may find it beneficial to put a trusted employee in charge of coordinating the fire safety management, ensuring they can devote full attention to it and allowing you to oversee and occassionally step in with a fresh perspective.
The best place to start is with the Risk Assessment, and the Fire Safety Law & Guidance Documents For Business to put you on the right track with the regulations by which you and your company need to abide.
About the Author: Electrical Testing Surveyors Ltd are a well established and fully qualified electrical installation and portable appliance testing company, able to provide testing to companies and organisations all over the UK. You can reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org and find more information on the website at www.electrical-testing.co.uk.