Ignoring fire safety may lead to prison

As we’ve been highlighting lately, fire risk assessments are a must now for the workplace.  In the most serious cases ignorance can lead to injury or death but failure to comply to the 2005 Regulatory Reform of the Fire Safety act can mean a possible prison sentence.  A recent case saw a Preston landlord end up before a judge for putting lives at risk for failure to abide by fire safety rules and told he could end up in jail.

A fire emergency evacuation plan also known as FEEP is a document that businesses should prepare that covers all action to be taken by staff in the event of a fire.  It also should include additional steps such as arrangements for calling the fire brigade and training required.

It is highly advisable for any company to nominate members of staff to implement the fire action plan (at least one person is required by law to be a “Responsible Person” within the company assigned to oversee risk assessment and internal policies relating to fire safety) and give them adequate training in fire fighting / evacuation procedures.

As a guide the following items should be considered within the workplace:

  •  Fire wardens/marshals (responsible person)
  • Fire fighting equipment provided (extinquishers, blankets)
  • Fire prevention equipment (smoke detectors)
  • Fire Emergency Evacuation Plan
  • Calling the fire brigade
  • Places of assembly and how to monitor visitors (roll call, sign in book)
  • Action on discovering a fire
  • Power isolation (if safe)
  • Protocols for ensuring clutter free environment

Although we have covered most of this in our three part “Fire Safety Tips for the workplace” guide we’d like to highlight that you can never be too prepared for a fire in the workplace.  At TutorCare we offer a wide range of Fire Safety Training courses that are available either in-house, online or at our dedicated regional centres across the country.  From practical advice on the use of fire extinguishers to training for fire marshals we are here to help and will continue to help highlight risks that not only cost companies thousands each year but also threaten the safety of your staff and the longevity of your business.Stay safe and call us today on 0333 331 7052

Fire Safety risk assessments

The Fire Safety regulatory reform order 2005, requires all premises used for non-domestic purposes (with a few small exceptions) to undertake regular fire risk assessments. Companies must have a designated “Responsible Person” whose job is to make certain specific actions are carried out to prevent fires and injury / death if a fire actually occurs.  It is estimated that there are nearly 20,000 commercial fires in the UK each year and the act was passed to ensure companies take fire safety seriously.

TutorCare offer a BSC (British Safety Council) accredited online course for staff in any sector covering fire risk assessment and associated laws.  The course that comes with a digital certificate upon completion is designed for management and employees who need to identify risks in their workplace but don’t necessarily have the time to attend training courses elsewhere.

For more details please see our BSC Fire Risk Assessment Course here.

Fire Safety Tips for the workplace (part 3)

The final part in our Fire Safety Tips for the workplace covers fire detection, prevention (such as fire doors) and warning systems. We also include a list of useful links regarding fire safety law and legislation at the foot of the post.

Invest in Fire Detection and implement warning systems

• Place standardised and compliant notices next to phone and fire points, paying particular attention to emergency exits displaying evacuation plan.

• Ensure emergency phone numbers, full company address and exit strategy is visible on evacuation plan. In its simplest format building users should be informed to: raise the alarm if fire found, exit the building, contact fire services.

• The “responsible person” typically checks the building for other staff. If the business occupies a number of offices it may be necessary to create a number of “fire safety officer” roles. Again these should be suitably trained. Once someone exits the building they should not return. Belongings should be left. Make sure all employees know this.

• Invest in industry approved smoke detectors and fire alarms.

• Arrange fire drills at set points throughout the year. The regularity of these may be set by the local authority or guidelines for your industry.
• Check the battery in smoke alarms monthly and change the battery once a year.

• It is recommended to replace smoke alarms every ten years.

• Place fire extinguishers according to fire safety requirements. A rule of thumb is one fire extinguisher per 200 square metre of floor space and at least one on each floor of your workplace.

• Check fire extinguishers regularly, ensuring they are fully charged and ready for use. Keep a log of when these were last expected and do this once a month.

Ensure installation of suitable fire exits and fire doors

• Clearly label fire door and exists. Use specialist lighting to identify ways out of the building should power failure occur.

• Ensure fire doors and exits are kept closed. Do not prop or wedge these open. It is an offence to do so and you are putting others at risk if a fire occurs.

• Fire escape routes and exits must be kept clear of any and all obstructions. Combustible items should not be stored anywhere near exits.

• If you need to regularly access areas that are connected via fire doors, consider a free-door system which allows you to keep the fire door propped open whilst adhering to fire safety regulations. These systems can prove effective in preventing congestion in connecting corridors.

Inspections

Inspections may be unannounced and an inspector is legally entitled to enter premises to ask about the identity of the Responsible person, inspect or copy fire safety records and review the site. By following the suggestions above you will ensure the safety of those working with you.
Failure to comply with the Fire Safety Order may result in legal action that could incur a hefty fine or imprisonment. The Enforcing Authority will ordinarily be a Fire Inspector from the local Fire Brigade. In special cases the HSE or Local Authority may be involved.

To keep ahead of changes to regulations and to ensure staff are trained suitably, it would be wise to use an accredited training provider. Training providers can be found online with an example being TutorCare Limited who are one of the UK’s largest Vocational training providers. For more information visit here – http://www.tutorcare.co.uk/fire-safety-training-courses. Courses start at 2 hours on-site and can be combined to cover a number of elements from Fire Marshalling to Practical Fire Extinguisher use. They also have a range of certification (Chartered Institute of Environmental Health) covering Fire safety Awareness and Risk Assessment.

Useful links when preparing your own plan:
Fire Safety in the workplace – https://www.gov.uk/workplace-fire-safety-your-responsibilities/who-is-responsible
Fire Safety Law – http://www.cfoa.org.uk/10275
Fire Safety HSE – http://www.hse.gov.uk/toolbox/fire.htm
Relevant Legislation – http://www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si2005/20051541.htm

Fire Safety Tips for the workplace (part 2)

Following on from our article last week, please find below part 2 of our Fire Safety Tips in the workplace.

Establish Safe Practices in the business once the plan has been prepared

• Keep staff up to date on the most recent practices. Get used to adding an item to weekly or monthly meetings that covers safety in general. This will ensure staff have been made aware of any changes to policy.

• Ensure any machinery in the workplace / office is maintained correctly to prevent overheating / friction sparks.

• Inspect wiring and electrical devices on a regular basis. Get into a habit of ensuring wires are protected. Faulty wiring and malfunctioning electrical devices are known to be key contributors to fires in the workplace.

• Ensure all plugs and electrical devices are PAT tested to current standards.

• Should any electrical repairs be required subcontract these repairs to a qualified electrician unless you are qualified.

• Document any issues and make necessary changes to show you have identified and rectified any problem areas.

• Prepare a contingency plan. This is vital should a fire occur to ensure your business can continue with minimal disruption.

Establish good housekeeping practices and ensure your staff understand and adhere to them

• Clear office and work space areas of clutter and ensure this does not block walkways, emergency exits or fire prevention equipment.

• ENSURE employees keep their own work space tidy and also report any “issues” with areas they frequent or devices they may use. It is good practice to include a copy of this information in a staff handbook so that they sign off their understanding of the procedure.

• Dispose of waste properly: clear bins regularly and ensure waste is collected for offsite disposal. External bin / refuge area can be a risk also so check this on a regular basis and make sure refuge is secure.

• Designate specific smoking areas and ensure all smokers are using it. Enforce proper extinguishing of smoking materials. It is an offence to smoke inside office / workplace property. Ensure your employees / sub-contractors / visitors are aware of this.

• For buildings that have multiple offices It is good practice to keep a log book to monitor times visitors arrive and depart. This will ensure in the case of a fire, any irregular guests area accounted for.

Part 3 will be published later this week.

Fire Safety Tips for the workplace

Today sees the first of a three part series of posts on Fire Safety in the Workplace.
We hope you find them useful for your business.

As a business owner and more importantly as an employer you are required by law to ensure that your property has been assessed for the risk of fire and that related policies / procedures are in place mitigating such risks. The responsibility not only extends beyond your employees but also to anyone visiting the workplace.
The following article contains some simple steps you can take to help nullify any potential risks associated with fire and the devastating effect it can have on a modern day business.
Please note this is my own guide and should only be used as a starting point for implementing your own fire-safety plan as regulations may change from time to time. In my experience by following these 5 points it has helped us keep our business and employees safe but I must stress that we review our own plan on a regular basis. Our plan relates to an office environment and if you are in the manufacturing or industrial sectors there may be additional steps you need to take. I am happy though to share this as a starting point. Either way I would strongly recommend prior to implementation of your own plan that you contact your local authority regarding regulatory changes and also check with Government guidelines which can be found here – https://www.gov.uk/workplace-fire-safety-your-responsibilities/who-is-responsible
I hope you find this useful and please feel free to let me know if there are any ways you think I can improve on this to help others.

Carry out regular fire-risk assessments
The main aim of a fire-risk assessment is to identify the key fire hazards within the business and establish who (if anyone) is particularly at risk. You must take into account permanent and temporary staff as well as customers, suppliers or volunteers that may come on site. In short anyone that enters the premises.
As the business owner you are ultimately responsible in making sure your premises are not at risk and that an emergency plan is in place. Prior to trading you must have this plan in place.

The key points for a plan are as follows
• Identify a “responsible person” to undertake a fire risk assessment and to continually check that the plan is adhered to. Typically this is the owner, although it may be a delegated role providing the person has suitable training. Please be aware that the owner of the building (if you have a landlord) also has some responsibility so you are obliged to co-operate on this issue.

• Identify the key fire hazards within the business. Typical risks for offices include electrical equipment, paper / paper waste and archived files. Depending upon your industry you may need to also include specialist materials (if they are in use) that can include hazardous or toxic waste. Please be aware that that there are advanced requirements for these and you should check with your local authority regarding additional steps you may need to take.

• Consider those at special risk, such as disabled persons, the elderly or children that may come on to site during hours of work.

• Construct an emergency plan to counter-act any risks identified above. The plan should:

o Identify risks

o Identify measures to be taken to reduce the likelihood of fire

o Provide employees with necessary precautions to take to reduce risk

o Inform staff on how to re-act to fire should one be discovered

o Detail evacuation and training plans associated with Fire safety

o Plan building exit strategy, prepare notices and put in place procedures for evacuation including contact details for emergency services

• Re-asses if practices change, new staff join or new risks are identified

Check back on Monday 13/06/16 for part two of this article.

First Aid and accidents in the Workplace

Accidents in the workplace although rare do unfortunately happen. While you can take precautions to minimise occurrences of such accidents when they do take place you may need to act quickly to avoid further injury or in the worst case save a life. In addition any accidents no matter how serious can also have a negative impact on productivity and output for the organisation itself.

Making your workplace safer can involve training, raising awareness regarding potential risks and installing safety equipment on site. Any workplace injury must be addressed no matter how minor. The types of injury will vary depending upon the environment and in particular the industry but common ones include; fractures, cuts, burns and bleeding as well as pulled muscles. Any incident within the workplace must be logged and reported following the legislation set out by the Health & Safety Executive body for the UK. Known as the “Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations” or (RIDDOR), the HSE have set out a guide to employees and employers regarding their responsibilities for any accident that occurs as a direct result of activity in the workplace.

No matter how small your workforce is, it is important to have one or more staff members trained in at least the basics of First aid. TutorCare offer a wide range of training options, onsite or online that can help ensure your staff know what to do in case of an emergency.

Below are a list of 5 tips on how to deal with common accidents within your workplace and are covered in our First Aid at Work Training (HSE) coursePlease note where you are in doubt always call 999 for further assistance. These tips are aimed at helping those with low level injury and ideally should only be done by those that have been suitably trained. You should always seek assistance from a qualified first aider or the medical services with anything more life threatening.

1) When an injured person is discovered, ensure both the victim and the first aider are clear of further danger or hazards. There should be no risks of further injury to either party whilst treatment is undertaken. Switch off machinery and clear space if necessary. If they need to be moved due to further threat being imminent do so providing the casualty isn’t suffering from a spinal or head injury.

2) If a casualty appears to have potential head or spinal injuries, stay with them and raise the alarm for others to contact the ambulance service on 999. Moving the injured person may result in further damage and needs to be done by those that are trained to do so. The same applies to anyone with a broken leg or damaged foot.

3) If the employee suffers from a burn (none hazardous), cool the area as soon as possible with cold water. If deemed serious get them to hospital as quickly as possible.

4) If the casualty is bleeding, raise the injured area above the heart (if possible) and immediately apply some pressure on or near the wound to reduce bleeding. Once the bleeding eases, clean the area ideally with antiseptic and fit a dressing or bandage on the area. Again if the injury is serious either call 999 or take them directly to hospital for further medical attention.

5) Any eye injury will require cleaning as soon as possible. Ensure only clean water is used and attempt (where possible and safe) to get any alien object or substances out of the eye. If this proves difficult and symptoms do not improve seek medical assistance at hospital as they may need specialist treatment to avoid serious damage to the eye.

All of our first aid courses cover the above in much more detail and are designed to benefit not only your business but the individuals that take part. Nothing is more important than ensuring an employee is treated quickly should an accident occur. First Aid Training may not be a pre-requisite in some companies but investing in your staff can make the difference between life and death should a serious incident ever occur on site.

Useful link –
www.fih.org.uk/firstaid.htm