As thousands of people pack up their home office and return to desks they’ve not sat at for six months, their minds will be focussed on operating within the ‘new normal’. However, it’s essential for employers to remember that fire safety in the work place is still paramount.
Social distancing measures such as rearranging desks, putting in place one way systems and changing the points at which people enter and exit a building are important measures to stop the spread of COVID-19. But these changes cannot be implemented to the determent of fire safety regulations.
Managing fire risks during COVID-19
While putting social distancing procedures in place you must strike a balance with fire safety in the work place. Here’s some things to consider:
- Do your social distancing measures conflict with or impact your fire risk assessment? This needs to be reviewed and updated.
- Have there been changes within your work force in terms of their mobility? For example, has a member of staff returned to work pregnant? It will be necessary to review whether you require evacuation chairs and whether those you already have are adequate to ensure everyone can leave the building safely in the event of an emergency.
- Have you briefed your staff, particularly your fire wardens, on the fact fire safety is paramount? They should always leave the building by the nearest exit regardless of social distancing.
- Do you have a system in place for tracking who is in your building and who may still be working from home? This information is critical should an emergency situation occur.
Of course, this doesn’t just apply to offices. Schools must also review their fire risk assessments to ensure the ongoing safety of staff and students who will be working in rearranged classrooms and with different ways of moving around their buildings.
Update your fire risk assessment now
In a post-lockdown world your fire risk assessment will be out of date if you haven’t reviewed it in the past year. Yet it is still a legal requirement to have an up-to-date fire risk assessment in line with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. Non- compliance could result in prosecution.
There has never been a more important time to update your fire risk assessment.
Benfield Fire Safety are fire emergency planning experts offering consultancy and fire safety training to support the development of your business’s emergency plans.
We can offer fire risk assessments, policy creation and fire safety training using state-of-the-art equipment to help make the fire emergency as realistic as possible. We have already delivered services and training to clients post-lockdown with appropriate social distancing measures in place.
To find out more about our fire emergency planning and fire safety services for businesses please get in touch with Benfield Fire Safety by calling 0300 303 3277 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org