By taking an interest in fire safety, you can not only
help your employer, but also ensure that the safety of you and your
colleagues is being adequately protected.
Your employer has a legal responsibility to make sure you and
others are safe in their premises. However under the Regulatory
Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, you also have a duty as an
employee for your own safety and that of your fellow employees. You
must assist your employer in keeping the workplace safe by being
aware of potential hazards and having an understanding of the steps
that need to be taken in order to maintain an acceptable level of
Fire risk assessment
A business is now required to carry out a fire risk assessment to
identify any possible dangers in the workplace. As an employee, you
may be asked to do this on behalf of your employer. This involves
- Identify any fire hazards e.g. sources of ignition, fuel or
- Identify anyone who could be at risk e.g. a colleague who has a
disability or is elderly.
- Evaluate the risk from fire, remove or reduce the risk, and
protect from risk by providing fire precautions.
- Record your findings, prepare an emergency plan and inform and
train your colleagues on the procedures.
- Review your fire risk assessment regularly and make changes
A short guide to making your premises safe from
Common safety pitfalls
- Locked or blocked fire exits and escape
Fire exits should be available for use at all times and provide
escape from the building onto a public road, not an enclosed yard!
If an escape route is marked as a fire exit then it should be
available as one.
- Combustibles stored in
Staircases form the means of escape from upper floors so it's
essential, particularly where there is only one staircase in the
building, that they are kept free from anything combustible.
- Fire doors wedged open
Particularly where they open on to a staircase, fire doors should
not be wedged open.
- Alarm testing
Generally, a fire alarm should be tested on a weekly basis.
- Staff training
Evacuation procedures need to be tested once every six months to
make sure that all your colleagues are aware of it and know what to
do in the event of an emergency.
- Emergency lighting
If anyone is expected to work in a building where artificial light
is the only light source then your employer should install an
emergency lighting system.
Finally, what should I do in the event of a
- You should only attempt to put out a fire with a portable fire
extinguisher if a fire is in its very early stages and you have
been fully trained.
- If you haven't been trained to use a fire extinguisher or the
fire is not in its very early stages, get out, stay out and call
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