Fire safety is a major concern in the workplace, and fire safety regulations require strict adherence and implementation. This can raise the question of who is ultimately responsible for fire safety in the workplace. Truthfully, it usually requires a combined effort for the safety of all individuals.
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Employer Fire Safety Responsibilities
As an employer, employee safety concerning fire-related risks is your responsibility. Work together with your employees to ensure everyone’s safety. One of your major responsibilities is to carry out regular fire risk assessments. Take appropriate safety measures to ensure total safety and security. Also, make sure to keep a thorough record of all risk assessments.
Employees also should be aware of all safety protocols. This includes you providing necessary information that is easily available. It may also include providing training to employees. These rules also extend to anyone who may be on the premises temporarily. Appropriate equipment and emergency exits should be available, and these also require regular maintenance.
Equipment includes warning systems and means of fighting a fire. You should also work with anyone responsible for the fire safety of the premises. Share records and create mutual protocols for identifying and mitigating risks.
The Fire Safety Act 2021 – What Should I Know?
Following the Grenfell Tower tragedy in 2017, the Fire Safety Bill was introduced in 2020 and was passed as the Fire Safety Act 2021. The act works to improve fire safety in multi-occupancy residential premises. Its major provisions include:
- Appointing those in charge of premises as responsible for fire safety. This person takes responsibility for risk assessment and management. The risk pertains to the external walls of the building. It also includes individual doors leading to communal areas
- Allowing fire and rescue authorities to take action against non-compliance
- Introducing risk-based guidance for appropriate risk assessment
The act is an amendment to the Fire Safety Order (FSO) 2005. It applies to all multi-occupancy residential premises.
Fire Wardens / Marshals in the Workplace
The person who is responsible for fire safety in the workplace appoints the fire warden or marshal. Their role is to aid and assist in the implementation of safety measures. They also have to stay prepared for a fire emergency, ensuring employee safety.
Fire wardens help implement the emergency plan, followed in case of a fire. They also work to serve as a risk-control step and are part of preparing the workplace for emergencies. Certain duties fall under the fire warden’s role.
Responsibilities of a Fire Warden / Marshal
A fire warden should:
- Act as an assistant in the implementation of safety procedures. They must also ensure emergency arrangements are in place
- Monitor and maintain prevention and protection equipment. They should ensure all equipment is up to code
- Offer training and educate employees on safety procedures. Employees should also be warned of potential risks and how to avoid them
- Offer employee training on the correct use of safety equipment. Employees should also know where the equipment is and how to use it
- Assist in evacuation procedures. This includes assistance for special-needs persons
- Understand appropriate and possible steps that must be undertaken in the event of a fire
Non-Domestic Commercial Premises: Who Is Responsible?
It can be hard to determine who is responsible for fire safety in the workplace. Commercial premises especially raise the question of who takes on the role. The responsibility essentially falls on whoever maintains control over the premises, which can include the owner, landlord, occupant or a manager. The relevant responsibilities are also usually in the lease. The responsibilities involved in such a role must be taken seriously.
Fire safety requires regular checks and maintenance to reduce the risk of an emergency. Fire safety practices and policies should also be in place. As the person responsible, you should ensure adherence to all safety regulations, as these practices can drastically reduce the risk of fire. They can also reduce potential damage in the event a fire does break out. The safety of individuals and property depend on regular checks and stringent practices.
Shared Commercial Premises: Who Is Responsible?
Responsibility within shared premises can sometimes be hard to establish. Typically, the lease should indicate who carries responsibility for fire safety. By standard agreements, the landlord or manager will have this duty.
This is applicable to areas of common use, such as stairwells and lobbies. Prevention and safety equipment, such as fire alarms, also fall under their responsibility. Within their own leased areas, tenants should work to maintain safety. Measures taken for communal areas are not adequate for individual safety.
As a tenant, you will have to take all appropriate safety measures within your area. In effect, a cooperative system works best in fire safety and risk management. Tenants and landlords should work together to take all preventative measures. A combined effort is the best way to guarantee the safety of all parties.
Penalties and Enforcement If Regulations Are Not Adhered To
Fire safety regulations are necessary for everyone’s safety. Not following these regulations can result in serious risks and pose a threat.
In addition, it can incur penalties for those responsible for implementing such procedures. Under the FSO, based on the new act, limitless fines are now possible, meaning that concerned authorities can impose unlimited fines for non-compliance with regulations.
They are also imposed in the case of obstructing the work of fire inspectors. Additionally, non-compliance can result in an informal notice. This notice outlines inadequacies in the fire safety system. It also includes what corrective steps you may need to take.
You have up to 28 days to correct or begin to correct the potential hazard. If the inadequacies are found to be unaddressed, an Enforcement Notice may be charged. This notice highlights non-compliance. It will also again outline the necessary steps to take immediately. If the risk imposed is too great, you may be served a Prohibition Notice.
This restricts the use of premises at high risk of a fire-related incident. The notice applies until steps have been taken to address the risks. Non-compliance with these notices can result in heavy or limitless fines. It can also lead to prosecution of the individuals responsible. These offences may be punishable by up to a 2-year sentence.