Fire safety in the workplace: what you need to know
If you run a business, employ staff, own commercial premises or occupy commercial premises, then it is your responsibility for fire safety in the business. If there’s more than one person responsible, such as a landlord, owner, occupier, then there is a need to work together to meet the requirements of the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 and Fire Safety (Scotland) Regulations 2006.
These regulations cover non-domestic premises, which include: workplaces and commercial premises; premises the public have access to; houses in multiple occupation that require a licence.
Fire Safety Risk Assessment
Prevention is paramount when it comes to fire, so having a Fire Safety Risk Assessment is essential, and is of course a legal requirement. It will help to evaluate the following:
1. The risk from fire in your premises
2. How fire might be prevented
3. How to ensure the safety of people in or around your premises if a fire does start
Once a Fire Safety Risk Assessment has been completed, any outcomes must be acted on with appropriate fire safety measures put in place. Assessments should be reviewed regularly.
Useful Documents available from the Scottish Government:
There is also specific guidance available for different scenarios and types of businesses, such as existing premises with sleeping accommodation, care homes, evacuation of disabled people from buildings, and new buildings, which can be viewed here.
Five Steps of Risk Assessment
As outlined by The Scottish Fire & Rescue Service, there are five steps within the Fire Safety Assessment Process. These are:
1. Identify the people at risk
An assessment should be carried out to outline those at risk. This will highlight the number of people at risk and the capability of people residing, occupying or working on the premises, as well as those who frequent the premises, such as visitors, customers or contractors. Those with some form of disability or frailty must also be taken into account and included in the risk assessment.
2. Fire Hazards
Ignition sources, such as naked lights, fuel (combustible materials, flammable liquids) and oxygen, such as air, must be identified. Assessing fire doors and ensuring they are kept closed and in a good state of repair can limit air flow.
3. Evaluate the risk and act
All fire hazards identified should be assessed, including through wilful fire-raising. Each hazard should be measured for each group of people identified in step 1. Steps should be taken to reduce the severity of risks to people through Risk Reduction Principles.
4. Paperwork for Fire Risk Assessment Information
Fire Risk Assessments should be recorded if:
1. A business has five or more employees
2. Where the premises are subject to a licence or registration
3. Where an Alterations Notice under the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 requires this.
What should be recorded?
Any significant findings from the Fire Risk Assessment should be recorded, as well as the resulting fire safety measures implemented. Also, those who are especially at risk should be recorded as well as arrangements put in place for the effective planning, organisation, control, monitoring and reviewing of the arrangements that have been put in place.
This information should be kept available for inspection by the local Fire and Rescue service or any other enforcing authority.
Fire Risk Assessments should be carried out at regular intervals.
How regular is regular? As soon as findings from a previous assessment go out of date, it should be renewed. Also, if there are significant changes to the premises, or the processes within the premises that will affect the validity of the previous assessment, then it should be reviewed again.
Training is available to those responsible for undertaking a Fire Risk Assessment. More information on this is available here.
Every workplace must have a dedicated Fire Warden (or Fire Marshal), who will be responsible for overseeing Fire Safety in the workplace. This is an important role and it should be taken seriously, by both the employee and the employer. Fire Warden should all have at least basic Fire Warden Training. Fire Awareness Training would also be advised, as well as Fire Risk Assessment Training – all will help to give Fire Marshals/Wardens confidence in their role. It should also be noted that if the premises are high risk or are over multiple floors, then more than one Fire Wardens should be appointed.
The guidelines on fire warden ratios:
Low risk premises: one Fire Warden for every 50 people
Medium risk premises: one Fire Warden for every 20 people
High risk premises: one Fire Warden for every 15 people.
To find out more about the role of a Fire Warden, read our previous blog here on What Training you need to be a Fire Warden.
For more information on requirements for businesses and premises, get in touch.