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Fire Safety in the workplace: who's responsible?


With the recent tragedy at the Grenfell Tower in London and the large warehouse fire at the Blackpole Trading Estate fire safety is at the forefront of everyone’s minds. 

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 lays out the statutory framework for fire safety responsibilities in England and Wales. You’re responsible for fire safety in business or other non-domestic premises if you’re:

  • an employer •           the owner
  • an occupier •           the landlord

 

This also includes anyone else with control of the premises, for example a facilities manager, building manager, managing agent or risk assessor. The Fire Safety Order also applies if you have paying guests, for example if you run a bed and breakfast, guesthouse or let a self-catering property.

If you are one of the above then you’re known as the ‘responsible person’. If there’s more than one responsible person, you have to work together to meet your responsibilities.

Non-domestic premises are all workplaces and commercial premises, all premises the public have access to and the common areas of multi-occupied residential buildings.

Responsibilities

As the responsible person you must:

  • carry out a fire risk assessment of the premises;
  • tell staff or their representatives about the risks you’ve identified;
  • put in place, and maintain, appropriate fire safety measures;
  • plan for an emergency; and
  • provide staff information, fire safety instruction and training.

 

Documentation

The Fire Safety Order also imposes a duty on the responsible person to keep certain written records.

 

After carrying out a fire risk assessment or any subsequent review, the responsible person must record the following information, known as "prescribed information":

 

  • the significant findings of the fire risk assessment (and any review);
  • the fire precautions that have been or will be put in place to address the significant findings; and
  • any group of persons identified by the assessment as being especially at risk.

 

It is important to remember that fire risk assessments are a continuing obligation and it must be an ongoing process whereby the document is continually updated and readdressed. In particular when any changes are made to the building or to the occupier or user.

 

Penalties and enforcement

 

Local fire and rescue authorities inspect premises and can issue fire safety notices telling you about changes you need to make. They will enquire who the responsible person is and ask for your fire risk assessment. You could be fined or go to prison if you don’t follow fire safety regulations.

 

Alterations, extensions and new buildings

 

When building new premises or doing building work on existing premises, you must comply with building regulations. This includes designing fire safety into the proposed building or extension.

 

Selling or leasing your commercial premises

 

When selling or leasing a non-domestic premise the standard pre-contract enquiries include questions regarding you compliance with the Fire Safety Order. Therefore, if you are looking at selling or leasing your premises out it is important that you have complied with the Fire Safety Order and have you records available for inspection.

 

If you are selling or leasing non-domestic premises or you require further information regarding your obligations under the Fire Safety Order please contact our commercial property on 01905 723561.

Added: 31 Jul 2017 12:00


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