Although we’re sure they’ll attest to being capable adults, employees still fall directly under their employer’s care when in the workplace. As such, employers are responsible for providing adequate fire safety protection for their employees – but that’s a pretty wide subject to cover.
So, what exactly are employers responsible for when it comes to fire safety? And how much is just plain common sense on the employees’ part?
Who is Responsible?
First and foremost, it’s important to explore exactly who in the organization is responsible for fire safety. Despite assumptions, it doesn’t fall directly on either the employer or the landlord to keep employees safe: fire safety is the responsibility of both, as well as anyone else with control of the premises, such as a facilities manager, building manager, risk assessor, or managing agent.
All of these individuals are known as the ‘responsible person’ – and if there’s more than one, then they must work together to meet fire safety regulations. As a singular contact, consider implementing a fire safety officer to liaise between the responsible persons and employees – just ensure the fire safety officer receives the right training to handle emergency situations.
What are Their Responsibilities?
Whether you’re the ‘responsible person’ within your organisation or there’s a whole team, there are a number of responsibilities which must be adhered to in order to adequately protect your employees.
Firstly, it’s imperative to carry out a fire risk assessment of the premises to identify any potential hazards or barriers to safety should the worst happen. This isn’t just a one-off task, however: a fire risk assessment must be reviewed regularly to be any use.
It’s also important to keep representatives and staff aware of any risks that have been identified from the assessment; they need to know of any problems so that appropriate fire measures can be put in place. These measures also need to be regularly maintained, in line with the risk assessment and any legal guidelines.
With an assessment carried out and safeguards in place, it’s time to turn attention towards your next responsibility: planning for an emergency. This includes an evacuation point and an exit route. Finally, it’s your responsibility to provide staff with this information, as well as fire safety training.
What if You Don’t Fulfil Your Responsibilities?
Quite simply put, you’ll be directly putting lives in danger. Your employees need to be able to come into work without having to second guess how safe they are in the event of a fire. On top of endangering employee lives, employers who don’t follow fire safety regulations can face a hefty fine or prison.
If local fire and rescue authorities visit your premises and find reason for concern, they can issue a fire safety notice, outlining changes which need to be made to avoid punishment.
Staying Safe, Together
Making sure you abide by the law and fulfil your fire safety responsibilities is a crucial part of running any business, and is a guaranteed way to build employee trust. With all the right fire precautions in place, your employees can rest assured knowing they’ll be safe in the workplace – and you’ll know that you’re fulfilling all of your responsibilities, avoiding punishment along the way.
If you need any assistance in putting your fire safety responsibilities into action, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch: D&S Fire provides everything you need to create a safe work environment for your team – including licensed safety products, emergency lighting, and risk assessments. Alternatively, feel free to browse our website for more information.