Changes to Fire Safety were introduced in October 2006 and MU Health & Safety Representatives should ensure that employers and workplaces are compliant under the Fire Safety Order and that Fire Risk Assessments have been carried out. Members should always make sure they are given information about fire evacuation and check that signage makes it clear how to get out of a building in an emergency. The following aims to give a basic understanding of Fire Safety and Fire Risk Assessments under current law and help when dealing with Fire Safety in the workplace.
Health & Safety Representatives can make valuable contributions to the Fire Risk Assessment process by helping employers to identify key issues and making practical suggestions for improvements.
The law and responsibility
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, known as the FSO (Fire Safety Order), has now replaced the Fire Safety provisions contained in numerous sets of regulations. Building occupiers or responsible person(s) must now carry out a Risk Assessment on the Fire Safety of the premises, a task previously carried out by the Fire Service, who would then issue a Fire Certificate.
There are separate sets of guidance documents available, covering a number of different types of premises including offices and shops, sleeping accommodation, theatres and cinemas. These guidance documents give details of how to comply with the new legislation.
Each guidance document comprises a general guide plus any requirements specific to the sector in question. These guidance documents can be downloaded from www.communities.gov.uk/fire/firesafety/firesafetylaw.
Five steps to Fire Risk Assessment
Identify potential fire hazards in the workplace.
2. Identify those at risk
Decide who (employees, visitors, etc) might be in danger in the event of a fire in the workplace or while trying to escape from it and be sure to note their location.
3. Evaluate, remove, reduce, protect from risk
Evaluate the risks arising from the hazards and decide whether your existing fire precautions are adequate or if more should be done to get rid of the hazard or to control the risks (for example, by improving the fire precautions).
4. Record, plan, inform, instruct and train
Record your findings and the details of the action you took as a result. Then inform your employees of the findings.
Keep the assessment under review and revise it when necessary.