Fire Safety Compliance – Returning to the Workplace

Monday, 19 July 2021

As we begin to recover and move back into the workplace environment, safety remains a key focus.

David Stapley, Principal Consultant at Fireshield Services has received a number of enquiries over recent weeks from businesses preparing to welcome back employees.

David comments: “The safety point that is uppermost in our thoughts is ensuring a COVD secure workplace. It is important that we take a holistic view of ‘safety’ to ensure that the outcome of the COVID risk assessment doesn’t negatively impact on fire safety.”

David recommends that businesses should consider the following:

  1. One way systems should not negatively impact on means of escape and in particular travel distance. In the event of fire or alarm actuation staff should use the nearest exit.
  2. Assembly points. While there is a need for social distancing, is there sufficient room/space. You may also consider providing separate assembly areas for each department or areas. If you do it is important to ensure effective emergency communications so that information relating to the evacuation can be exchanged with the person in charge.
  3. Wedging doors open. Careful consideration needs to be given if they are ‘fire doors’ as they should be in the closed position. This is an element which may require a review of your fire risk assessment as the occupants may be at greater risk. The greatest killer in a fire is smoke. If your building has more than one floor and there is a single escape stair, wedging open fire doors presents a greater risk - particularly if there is no automatic fire detection.
  4. Maintenance of fire safety measures. This may not have been done for a period of time. It is crucial to ensure that the fire alarm, emergency lighting, fire extinguishers and so on are serviced by a competent engineer.
  5. Means of escape. Exit door securing mechanisms should be checked to ensure they open easily and maintenance done where required. The outside escape paths may be overgrown with foliage and surfaces covered in moss/lichen which could present a slip hazard. A good spring clean and tidy up is advisable.
  6. Staff training should be considered. It may be a considerable time since they took part in an evacuation drill, particularly where there may be changes to the fire safety measures that they need to be aware of.

If you feel you would benefit from further advice in relation to risk assessment or staff training, please email David at [email protected] or call him on 07478 334774. Find out more about Fireshield Services.