5 signs it’s time to review your fire safety provisions
Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, your business has a duty to put in place all reasonable measures to reduce the risk of injury or death in the event of a fire. Like every other aspect of construction health and safety, the process begins with a risk assessment. But like every type of risk assessment, the fire safety plan needs to be revisited regularly if safeguards are to properly protect workers in an ever-changing environment.
There are no defined timescales for carrying out reviews, but they must be “current”. Here are five tips to help you decide when the time is right for a reappraisal.
1. Rubbish is building up on site
When rubbish is allowed to accumulate, the risk of a fire increases exponentially. The more rubbish, the greater that risk, and the size of any resulting blaze.
It is vital that workspaces are kept clear of rubbish, and is disposed of away from potential sources of ignition. You will need to offer staff a quick refresher on managing rubbish safely, and ensure that there are suitable disposal mechanisms in place for them to use.
2. Walkways and exits are obstructed
If you notice that walkways and doorways are frequently blocked by equipment or debris, a new risk assessment is in order. Such obstructions could prove fatal in the event of a fire, preventing people from leaving a burning building. Obstructions must be managed with this worst-case scenario in mind.
Again, the risk can be reduced by reminding employees that fire exits and walkways must be kept clear for the safety of themselves and their colleagues. You should also check to ensure that fire doors are being opened and closed correctly to help limit the spread of a fire.
3. Fire alarm problems
If the regular fire alarm test (you do have one of those don’t you?) reveals faults that prevent the alert being raised, there could be other issues that also need to be addressed. Without a fully functioning alarm system, employees will could become trapped on site with fatal consequences.
You must have a fully working alarm system in place at all times, so early identification of problems that are preventing the alert being raised is essential.
4. You begin to use new equipment on site
New tools and equipment are a potential source of ignition, particularly where they generate friction or sparks. Your regular health and safety risk assessment for each must also include some consideration for the potential for starting a fire.
Ensure that staff are properly trained in using the new equipment safely, and that there are suitable provisions in place to minimise potential sparking.
5. You take on a lot of new workers
Your induction routine should already include basic information about how staff need to act in the event of a fire on site. But increased headcount also raises new challenges for managing evacuations should a blaze break out.
Make sure that your fire risk assessment plans are updated as part of the standard hiring process, and you can ensure that new workers are protected from their first day on site.
There are of course many other reasons to instigate a review of your provisions, and you should take every opportunity to raise standards. Not only will you help to better protect your employees, but you will also avoid problems in the event of an HSE site investigation.
So over to you – how often are your fire risk assessments reviewed?
This post has been filed in: Fire Risk Assessments