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AS AN EMPLOYER DO YOU UNDERSTAND YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES?

1st October 2006 saw what was probably the most significant change in 30 years when the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 was introduced

Who or what is ‘the Responsible Person’?

The responsible person is defined as meaning ‘the employer, if the workplace is to any extent under his/her control’ or where this does not apply, the occupier as ‘the person who has control of the premises’ or the owner ‘where the person in control of the premises does not have control… of a trade, business or other undertaking’.

This means that just about every commercial premise within the UK needs to comply in a self regulatory manner with the duties of that position.

Some facts

  • Over 500 people die every year in fires
  • 80% of businesses who suffer a fire cease trading
  • If you have commercial premises then you should have a completed a fire risk assessment

Your employees and buildings are your biggest assets, so why wouldn’t you protect them against the threat of fire.

The effect of a fire can be shocking in terms of lives lost, injuries, and damage to property. Most fires are preventable, and can be avoided by taking responsibility for and adopting fire safe behaviours and procedures.

In general most businesses do not have the in-house expertise to manage their fire risk. This is where we can help, our team of experienced and qualified consultants are available to analyse your risks and give you timely independent advice.

The Responsible Person has the following duties:

To carry out, record and implement the conclusions of a risk assessment, equipping the premises with appropriate firefighting equipment and with detectors and alarms, and providing suitable emergency routes and exits.

The following general fire precautions must be taken:

  • to reduce the risk and spread of fire;
  • for escape routes;
  • to ensure escape routes can be used at all times and not blocked;
  • particular matters must be taken into account when employing young people, the risk assessment should identify those people especially at risk;
  • employees, parents of children employed, and others at the premises should have relevant fire safety information – including details of dangerous substances at the premises – and employees must have adequate safety training and understand the evacuation procedures;
  • a sufficient number of ‘competent persons’ must be maintained to assist in implementing preventative and protective measures, including safety drills;
  • all fire safety equipment must be maintained; and
  • the risk assessment should be reviewed when necessary.

The Chairman of the Passive Fire Protection has gone on record giving his opinion that, ‘Get the required risk assessment wrong or ignore the requirement then lives will be endangered and businesses put at risk’ and also that ‘insurances will be void’. ‘Ultimately those responsible will be criminally liable’.

What do you need to consider when carrying out a Fire Risk Assessment?

  • Fire safety management
  • Fire detection and warning
  • Escape routes
  • Emergency lighting
  • Fire fighting equipment
  • Signs and notices
  • Training
  • Occupancy
  • Management of documentation (Records)

Your Record of the Significant Findings should include

  • The fire hazards you have identified
  • The actions you have taken or will take to remove or reduce the chance of a fire occurring (preventative measures)
  • Persons who may be at risk
  • The actions you have taken or will take to reduce the risk to people from the spread of fire and smoke (protective measures)
  • The actions people need to take in case of fire including details of any persons nominated to carry out a particular function (your emergency plan)
  • The information, instruction and training you have identified that people need and how it will be given

As part of our service our consultants provide the following courses:

  • An Introduction To Fire Safety
  • Fire Wardens
  • Fire Safety Manager
  • The Responsible Person

Those businesses large enough to employ their own in-house fire prevention experts will probably have the correct procedures in place but it is unlikely that many small and medium-sized businesses (which make up most of this countrys businesses) will have the expertise to comply with the Order, that is, if they have even heard of it.

The Fire Safety Law brings responsibilities to businesses of all sizes, those who are not compliant face prosecution. Few people within the workplace could be expected to have the expertise to competently carry out a Fire Risk Assessment based upon those requirements listed above.

For an informal discussion on how we can help just call or email us.

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