Employers Still not Implementing Measures According to the Fire Safety Regulations

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Three months on since the October 2006 New Fire Regulations came into effect and although mostly aware of the new fire regulations, employers are still not taking the measures laid out in the regulations in order to prevent fire risk. Simply-docs informs employers of these measures (http://www.simply-docs.co.uk/CustomPage.aspx?customPageID=23). Businesses are now required to carry out their own fire safety risk assessments and fire certificates that businesses previously relied on have no legal status. Additionally, directors and senior management can be prosecuted along with the company if they breach health and safety standards with regard to fire safety.

New Fire Safety regulations came into force on 1st October 2006 but many employers are still not identifying the precautions necessary to minimise fire risk. Simply-docs offers a helping hand on the implications of the fire regulations for the workplace (see http://www.simply-docs.co.uk/CustomPage.aspx?customPageID=23). The new fire safety legislation generating these changes is the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order (RRO) 2005. The aim of this order was to simplify, rationalise and consolidate existing UK fire legislation, and to shift the emphasis of fire prevention and the reduction of risk from the fire authorities to employers/businesses. This risk-based approach to fire safety allows for more efficient and effective enforcement of the fire safety regulations by the fire authorities.

Essentially, the main difference is that Fire Certificates will no longer be issued, and businesses will have to carry out their own Fire Risk Assessments. Anyone who has control of premises or anyone with a degree of control over certain areas in a workplace will be identified a "responsible person" and be expected to assess fire safety for the relevant area(s).

The Fire Safety Order applies across England and Wales to virtually all premises and covers nearly every type of building, structure and open space including offices and shops, premises that provide care, community halls, common areas of houses occupied by more than one party, pubs, clubs and restaurants, schools, tents and marquees, hotels and hostels, factories and warehouses. It excludes purely domestic premises occupied by a single family group.

In order to comply with the Fire Safety Order, the responsible person must make sure that they carry out a fire risk assessment. This task can be passed to some other competent person but the "responsible person" will still be responsible, in law, for meeting the Fire Safety Order. The responsible person must as far as is reasonably practical make sure that everyone on the premises, or nearby, can escape safely if there is a fire. They must consider everyone who is on the premises, whether they are employees, visitors or members of the public. Particular attention should be paid to people who may have a disability or anyone needing special help.

The Fire Safety Order states that an employer must manage any fire risk in their premises. Fire authorities no longer issue fire certificates and those previously in force will have no legal status. A fire risk assessment will help to identify risks that can be removed or minimised and to decide the nature and extent of the general fire precautions necessary to protect people against the fire risks that remain. Businesses that employ five or more people must record their fire risk assessment and any significant findings.

A fire safety risk assessment must also be reviewed, and revised as necessary, whenever there is doubt over its validity or whenever there are significant changes that can affect fire risks.

In addition to fire safety legislation, Health and Safety at Work legislation also covers the elimination or reduction of fire risks. As well as the particular and main general duties under the Health and Safety at Work Act, fire risks are also covered by specific rules such as for work equipment, certain types of substance, electricity and other hazards.

Thus, environmental health officers or Health and Safety Executive inspectors may enforce health and safety standards for the assessment and removal or control of fire risks where it is necessary, for the protection of workers and others so far as is reasonably practicable, that the employer exceeds the requirements of fire safety legislation.

Employees whose conduct leads to a breach of Health and Safety at Work legislation with regards to fire risks can be prosecuted alongside or instead of a duty holder. And, where a duty holder breaches his Health and Safety at Work duties with regards to fire safety due to the consent, connivance or neglect of any of his directors or senior managers, the executive(s) can be prosecuted alongside the company.

About Simply-docs:

Simply-docs is the latest fulfillment of Simply-4-Business Limited's mission to enable small and medium enterprises (SME's) and owner managers to put in place correct documentation and procedures, and then to keep pace with and comply with regulatory change at an affordable cost.

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Iain Mackintosh
Simply-Docs
44 20 8878 7236
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