It goes without saying that a fire is detrimental to any business. Not only does it have the potential to damage stock and equipment, but it also poses a threat to staff and customers alike. Although the number of fires in the workplace has declined in recent years, the statistics still make for sobering reading. Research has shown that for 85% of SME’s suffering a serious fire, it’s game over for the business.
In order to promote fire safety in the workplace, the Government introduced fire safety law, which came into force in 2006. Known as the ‘Fire Safety Order’, anyone who owns or runs a business needs to comply. So what precisely does this mean?
The Fire Safety Order applies to all buildings, with the exception of domestic properties. If you employ staff to work in your home, however, then it will also apply to a domestic property in this context. To comply with the law, business owners need to ensure that their workplace meets the required standards for fire safety.
For businesses with five or more employees, the owner will need to carry out a comprehensive fire risk assessment. This involves identifying any risks or hazards in the workplace that could contribute to causing a fire. It also requires that you look at which of your team members may be most at risk.
Based upon the findings, the business may need to find ways in which to reduce the risks or hazards in the workplace and provide appropriate practical solutions, such as installing smoke alarms, fire curtains, sprinklers or fire extinguishers. Extra precaution will be needed where flammable or explosive materials are used in the workplace. An evacuation plan will also be required so that, should a fire occur, employees and customers alike can safely exit the building.
Staff training is an integral component in complying with the Fire Safety Order. Business owners need to ensure that staff members are fully aware as to what they must do if a fire breaks out. A member of staff should be nominated as a fire marshal to co-ordinate the safe evacuation, and must be aware of the procedures in place. Training should be given to all staff members in the use of equipment such as fire extinguishers and fire curtains, in addition to basic first aid.
The good news is that the majority of fires are preventable, so the introduction of the Fire Safety Order is of genuine benefit for business owners in reducing the risk of fire occurring and in mitigating the consequences if it does.