We know the importance of fire safety in the workplace and regulations and guidance provide the framework for England and Wales, on how fire safety should be managed in the workplace. Employers with five or more employees must appoint a responsible person to make sure that fire safety in the workplace is sufficient and carry out a Fire Risk Assessment of that workplace. The Fire Safety Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2010 and The Fire Safety (Scotland) Regulations 2006 are applied in those areas of the UK.
Below are some ideas and initiatives to consider:
- Have a fire safety policy in writing that all employees are familiar with. This could be a stand-alone document or incorporated into your overriding health and safety policy. Employees should read it as part of their induction into the business and it should be available on the company’s intranet for employees to view.
- Provide basic fire awareness training to all employees using an interactive solution or short video. Follow this up with some questions to confirm understanding, for example, do they know the evacuation procedures, how to raise the alarm, where their nearest exit is and where the assembly point is?
- Highlight the importance of fire wardens to line managers so that they actively encourage their employees to become fire wardens or play responsible roles during evacuations.
- Carry out six monthly, or if possible, quarterly evacuation drills. There is a requirement to carry out a fire drill at least annually covering all shift patterns, but if you can carry them out more frequently it only helps to familiarise employees with the process, and you are less likely to miss any employees who may have been absent if only an annual drill is carried out.
- Use constant visual aids through regular communications to promote good housekeeping and fire safety standards throughout your building(s). Remind employees of good practices, for example not plugging extension leads into one another, closing fire doors, not allowing waste to build up, limiting the use of high-risk items such as electric fan heaters. Fire awareness training could be used to remind employees of these important fire safety measures.
- Explain ‘reasons’ for safe fire related practices so that employees understand ‘why’ they need to do something. For example, fire exits should be kept clear, so that if there is a power failure and no light, other than emergency lighting, there are no obstructions in fire exits. Explain why fire doors should be kept shut – to stop the spread of fire and smoke.
- Publish some anonymous ‘naming and shaming’; if appropriate display some photographs of poor fire safety standards (if you are brave enough).
- Talk about fires that are ‘in the news’, explain what happened and what might have prevented a fire from starting.
- Explain reasons for having good fire safety standards from the Fire Service’s point of view, i.e. imagine if that was your brother/sister, aunt/uncle who had to enter the building to rescue someone who had not left in an emergency situation.
If you need any help or support with your fire safety management, please visit our service page and get in touch.