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Fire Safety at Work: Who's Responsible?

19th August 2022

Every industry’s working environment has some element of danger and risk. Having updated fire safety measures and training is essential for the protection of the workers, as well as company compliance with the law.

In this blog post, we discuss what fire safety involves, who should be implementing it, and the training needed to ensure that your businesses meet the expected legal requirements.

What is the Core Legislation for Workplace Fire Safety?

If you are managing and operating a company, you must obey the fire safety legislation. The main component of the legislation is The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, commonly referred to as the 'Fire Safety Order'. This order applies across England and Wales and was made effective from 1st October 2006. Every location, structure, and building - apart from private residences like block flats or family houses - is covered by the Fire Safety Order.

Who Carries Out the Fire Safety Order?

Fire Safety Enforcement Officers are responsible for enforcing the fire safety rules. They are permitted to enter workplaces at any time without notice, although the inspector may give notice when they consider it appropriate. The Enforcement Officer inspects the premises, workplace activities, fire safety management, and the responsible staff’s fire risk assessment to confirm their fire safety responsibilities are being fulfilled.

Who's Really in Charge of Fire Safety?

Organisations do vary in size, work styles, and facilities, particularly in today’s current climate when many businesses’ employers work in a ‘hybrid’ onsite / offsite approach post-COVID-19. This means many organisations are having to be more intentional about safety, being aware of which staff will be present on-site at certain times throughout the working week. Hence, fire safety awareness across all employees and role delegation (for instance Fire Marshalls) is something that employers should be highly considerate of.

Legally, employers are responsible for keeping their workplaces safe in the United Kingdom. The Health and Safety Act etc. 1974 covers all the health and safety requirements and information that employers should provide for their employees.

The components of this Act include:

  • Ensuring a competent person is appointed to oversee health and safety - First Aid training will be highly beneficial for this.
  • Frequent risk assessments being carried out.

How Do I Complete a Fire Risk Assessment?

Written documentation must be completed for your fire risk assessment if you have five or more employees. The assessment is meant to highlight any potential hazards the workplace facilities could cause, as well as individuals who may be in danger. This awareness will decrease those risks as much as possible.

An example of a fire risk assessment component is checking to see if a company’s fire extinguishers are suitable for that particular environment. Another example is the consideration of where the nearest fire extinguishers are, and that easy access is available to all of them including those in wheelchairs or other accessibility issues.

Fire risk assessments are recommended to be carried out annually by an appointed Health and Safety adviser in the workplace.

What Should Be Covered During Workplace Fire Training?

As stated in the Fire Safety Act 2005, all workers should have "training on the required precautions and actions to safeguard themselves and other relevant persons on the premises". Depending on the working environment, in-person fire training will be invaluable for staff awareness of alarms, fire exits, flammable items, and other physical components that are taken into account for the company’s risk assessment. Likewise, online fire safety courses can be completed by staff who have been delegated relevant roles in overseeing fire safety for their company or department.

At Fire Stoppers, we can provide fire training for your business and employees. We tailor this training to suit your workplace and provide three courses in one; fire marshal training, practical fire extinguisher training, and fire safety. Contact us today to learn more.