In the UK, employers have a legal duty to provide their staff with a safe working environment. This means, wherever possible, being prepared for disasters that could potentially endanger life. Just about every premises in the country is vulnerable to fire, but some are much more vulnerable than others. As such, there are specific legal duties which relate to fire, too. If you’re running a business and you’re concerned about fire safety, then there are a few things you might think about.
Risk Assessment and Prevention
You can’t solve this problem if you aren’t aware of its potential causes. A risk assessment will give you the information that you need about the problems unique to your business. Your wiring, storage methods, or use of materials might all be a source of outsized risk. If the warehouse is overflowing, for example, and there is stock and equipment piled on the floor, then fire safety is likely to be sub-optimal.
Having identified the hazards, you can take corrective action. This might mean construction work using fire-resistant materials, including plasterboard, or it might mean bringing someone in to take a look at the electrical system.
This process should ideally be ongoing, since problems will inevitably arise over time, and it’s vital that they are promptly identified and corrected.
Evacuation Plans For Emergencies
Preventing a fire from occurring in the first place is the ideal outcome. But it’s not a certainty. By making everyone on your premises aware of the proper procedure during a fire, or any other emergency, you’ll be able to minimise the harm caused when a fire does catch hold.
Fire drills are essential. Conduct them regularly. Make sure responsibility for supervising an evacuation is clearly divided, and that you have the right tools in place at the appropriate locations. Commercial kitchens and other places that deal with fire should be equipped with fire extinguishers, and staff should understand how to use them.
Smoke alarms, heat sensors and carbon monoxide detectors should all be installed throughout the premises. They should be connected so that a fire in one part of the building will alert the occupants of another. In some cases, it might be prudent to invest in a sprinkler system, too.
Training and Awareness
General awareness of fire safety should ideally extend well beyond the occasional drill. For this reason, regular training in fire safety should be provided to everyone. This should not only involve the use of equipment like fire extinguishers, but also the procedure through which hazards might be spotted, logged and reported. Everyone should feel comfortable raising their hand if they perceive that the workplace is not safe. That way, problems won’t remain unidentified for any longer than they have to be.