Whilst it might not be on the forefront of every business or building owner’s mind – workplace fire safety is a vital consideration for every office building.
Companies of all shapes and sizes need of the potential risks that could be present in their workplace and plan for adequate fire prevention and defence. This will typically vary depending on business to business, but every business must adhere to the relevant Fire Safety Regulations which provide a framework within which your fire safety planning must sit.
This page covers details in relation to fire safety in England and Wales, and legislation differs across other parts of the UK. There is region specific legislation across both Scotland and Northern Ireland.
As qualified fire safety experts, Surrey Fire & Safety have years of experience working with businesses across Surrey, London, Middlesex, and Hampshire to ensure legislative compliance, along with the safety of office infrastructure and most importantly – those working within your business.
Get in touch today if you have any queries about our fire safety services – we offer a free survey to all potential customers.
Fire Safety Responsibility in the Office
Responsibility for fire safety in the workplace usually sits with the employer or owner – known as the Responsible Person. This can, however, depend on the lease of a property and could also be the responsibility of the landlord (or, in some cases, even split between the landlord and business owner). The Responsible Person must ensure that:
· A suitable fire risk assessment has been carried out
· Potential emergency situations are planned for
· Appropriate fire safety measures are put into place
· Staff are informed of any fire safety risks, and additionally receive relevant instruction and training where appropriate
The specifics of these points are contained within The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
The Responsible Person needs to ensure that these points are actioned, however, this doesn’t need to be done personally by that individual. We would recommend appointing a Competent Person by using the services of an external specialist – such as Surrey Fire & Safety. Not only will this save you time, but you’ll also have the assurance of knowing that you’re working with fire safety experts, and a business with over 25 years of experience in the field.
A fire risk assessment is not just a vital planning document for any business, but is also a legal responsibility under The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005:
“The responsible person must make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to which relevant persons are exposed for the purpose of identifying the general fire precautions he needs to take to comply with the requirements and prohibitions imposed on him by or under this Order.”
For small businesses (under 5 people) Surrey Fire have a free Fire Risk Assessment Template – however, you must ensure that whoever fills this out is familiar with the legislation and unique risks that your individual business may have.
A successful fire risk assessment should:
· Identify fire hazards within the workplace
· Identify anyone at risk, including employees/staff, contractors, customers and visitors
· Carefully consider the risks and undertake measures to remove or reduce them
· Record the above whilst ensuring that staff are suitably informed, educated and trained on relevant fire safety risks
· Be regularly reviewed and updated – especially if anything relevant to fire safety changes within the business
Local fire services regularly conduct checks on businesses to ensure they are complying with the law. This will usually come in the form of a visit from a Fire Safety Officer representing your local fire service. Notice will often be given for these visits; however, a Fire Safety Officer can enter any workplace at a reasonable hour to conduct an audit. If any breaches are found, then they can advise on how to resolve these. However in serious circumstances this may lead to legal action.
Examples of these can be found on London Fire Brigade’s Public Notices Page, which lists actions they’ve taken against businesses, and for what reason.
Fire Hazards in the Office
Fire hazards in the office can take on a range of different forms, but, some of the most common hazards include:
· Faulty electrical equipment (ensure electrical equipment in your office is regularly PAT Tested)
· Flammable materials being incorrectly stored, such as paper or card
· Build-up of (flammable) dust and debris
· Issues with communal cooking infrastructure
· Blockages across fire exits
You may also work within a business that specialises in areas that present fire hazards surrounding chemicals, manufacturing or electronics. For example, if your office deals with electrical repair, you may face hazards surrounding the use of soldering irons and heat guns. These should be accounted for in your Fire Risk Assessment.
Different safety measures will need to be put into place depending on what your workplace’s unique risks are. The first line of defence against fire should be the prevention of a fire breaking out, based on the risks you’ve assessed so far.
Some safety measures the Responsible Person should include:
· Making sure staff have been appropriately trained
· Putting an emergency evacuation plan and assembly point in place where appropriate
· A suitable Fire Alarm System is installed and operational
Fire Marshalls and Wardens
As well as the main responsible person, businesses may designate specific fire marshals (or wardens) to manage fire safety responsibilities. We recommend having different levels of fire marshal coverage based on the risk level of your business, the area size, and also number of employees. For more information, we have a guide here to help you figure out how many fire marshals your business may need.
As well as acting as business fire safety advisors – Surrey Fire and Safety also provide Fire Marshal Training Courses to certify your designated marshals and wardens. Delivered at your workplace, our courses cover all the responsibilities of a fire marshal along with how to react to specific situations within the workplace.
Appropriate fire safety equipment is necessary for the vast majority of offices. This should cover:
· Appropriate fire safety signs in the workplace
· Any additional fire equipment and maintenance of this
Fire safety is not something to be overlooked, as failures in your fire planning could lead to catastrophic loss of both life and infrastructure. We highly recommend getting a professional fire safety business such as Surrey Fire on board to go through your fire safety planning ensure that your business meets standards that legislation requires.
Contact Surrey Fire today for a free quote, and discuss how we can help you with your business’ fire safety planning.
We hope this guide has been useful to you but if you have any additional questions, please give our friendly team a call on 0800 157 1113 and they’ll be happy to help.
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Check out more of our office fire safety guides below: