Advice for Employers

As an employer you have a legal duty to carry out a fire risk assessment. Part of this involves ensuring that everyone in your workplace can escape and reach a place of safety in the event of an emergency.

What are the legal requirements for all premises?

  • Escape routes should be kept clear of all obstructions.
  • Generally routes should be at least 1m wide.
  • The escape routes should lead to a place of safety, normally outside and away from the building.
  • Doors on escape routes must always be available for use without the use of a key.
  • Depending on the risk, push pads or panic bar devices should be used. Security must never take precedence over safety. Many propriety devices are available that satisfy both requirements. Where there are roller shutters or security grills these must be opened when persons are on the premises.

What should I do if I only have small premises?

If your premises are small and the layout is simple, the normal entrances and exits may be sufficient. There should be no possibility of anyone getting cut off by smoke or flames before they can make their escape.

If nobody sleeps on the premises and the risk of fire is considered to be normal then 18 metres is the furthest people should normally be expected to travel in one direction. This travel distance may be exceeded but further fire safety provisions will be needed.

What should I do if my premises are large and have multiple storeys?

Escape routes need to be much more sophisticated in larger buildings with more complex floor plans.  If there is a fire, people should be able to turn their back on it, wherever it is, and move away to a safe place outside the building.

If there are two or more escape routes, care should be taken so that smoke and flames can't affect more than one route at the same time.

Are there any other considerations?

  • When planning escape routes, evaluate the entire journey to the place of safety. Keep all routes clear, including areas outside your premises that are included in the escape routes.
  • Make sure your employees are aware of all possible escape routes, and practice them using your emergency routines regularly.
  • All premises should have an escape plan that clearly identifies the action that employees and others should take in the event of a fire. This may include duties for employees to check areas are clear, close doors and assist others.
  • Escape routes should not be used by employees as normal circulation routes. A management system should be put in place to keep escape routes clear and useable.
  • If there are people with disabilities on your premises then you must take their needs into account when planning an evacuation strategy. You may have to consider a wide range of possible disabilities including people who have less mobility simply because of age. Further information is available by downloading a disabled persons supplement here

Record of Fire Safety Equipment Testing

The fire safety logbook and maintenance record should remain on your premises at all times. The register will assist you in proving compliance with your legal responsibilities in relation to fire safety and should be completed following the inspection, test and maintenance of any of the items required by the legislation.

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Last update: 26/02/2013 15:51:07
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