Fire Safety Checks For Returning To Office Working
Every employer has a duty of care towards their staff and any visitors to their business premises – one of the most important aspects of this duty is the safety of staff in the event of a fire outbreak on the workplace premises. A fire can destroy your business premises and, more importantly, endanger the safety of your workforce – the correct safety precautions should always be identified and implemented to offer the maximum protection for your staff. Many businesses may have only just returned to office-based daily work following the pandemic – this is an appropriate time to review all your fire safety arrangements and processes – here are some aspects of office fire safety that you should consider:
Mandatory Fire Risk Assessments
One of the mandatory requirements for office premises is that a thorough and comprehensive Fire Risk Assessment is performed, reviewed, and updated regularly. These assessments help you identify potential fire risks and sources and are hugely important in providing effective fire protection for your staff, visitors, and premises. This assessment should result in an evacuation plan for the building which must be relayed to, and understood by, all the staff using the premises. These assessments need to be performed by a relevant, qualified person specifically appointed for the task.
Offices Should Be Decluttered
One of the biggest dangers to fire safety in the workplace is clutter – untidy office space can mean more items likely to catch alight and spread flames in the event of a fire outbreak. Cluttered offices can also hinder any safe passage through, and exit from, the building should an evacuation be necessary. Keeping your office space clean, tidy, and well-ordered is an important part of your workplace health and safety – any stock items should be correctly and safely stored, especially if there are any flammable materials kept on the premises. Anything flammable should be stored in fire-resistant cabinets or containers. Any waste materials are also a potential fire hazard and should be responsibly disposed of on a regular basis to avoid any unnecessary build-up.
Tidy Electrical Equipment
One of the more obvious potential fire sources is any electrical equipment present – most offices will have computers, printers, and other electrical equipment in regular use. Ensure that power points and plugs are not overloaded, that all non-essential electrical equipment is turned-off at the end of each working day and that ALL electrical equipment is properly PAT tested and approved.
Fire Safety Equipment Availability
You should ensure that there is always fully-working and relevant fire fighting equipment in the office workspace – an effective smoke detection and alarm system should be in place and tested on a regular basis. Fire safety equipment such as extinguishers, smoke blankets and visible, prominent fire safety signage should all be in place.
Appropriate Staff Training
Having established your fire risk assessment and provided the relevant fire safety equipment, it is essential that the staff know how to effectively use that equipment in the event of a fire outbreak. Full training of the equipment should be given to staff members and ALL staff need to be aware of what to do in a fire outbreak emergency. Regular fire drills need to be performed and recorded accordingly – be aware that any new staff starting will need to have this awareness training on their induction process.
Effective Office Fire Doors
All offices should have appropriate fire doors installed. Office fire doors are available in different ratings offering varying levels of fire protection against flame, smoke, and heat containment in the event of a fire outbreak. These security fire doors come fitted with intumescent seals to prevent the spread of potentially fatal smoke and offer great protection against the fire whilst creating a vital window of opportunity for a safe evacuation of the building in an emergency. Consult with an experienced and reputable fire door manufacturer to ensure you have the most effective and appropriate office fire doors installed in your building.
The Responsible Person
Official Fire Wardens should be appointed in the workplace – these will be staff members who have responsibility for creating and maintaining fire procedures for the office and the staff. These wardens will need to co-ordinate any evacuation of the building and ensure that nobody is left inside. These appointed staff members will need to undergo official fire warden training and ensure that their knowledge is regularly updated.