The past few weeks has seen lockdown restrictions lifted for a number of industry sectors, with more businesses set to re-open over the coming weeks and months too. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has undoubtedly imposed new pressures on companies and organisations of all sizes when it comes to ensuring their spaces are safe to welcome back customers, visitors, and staff alike.
Despite these added pressures, it’s still important for business owners to make sure that they have the correct fire safety equipment and signage in place and that extinguishers have been properly serviced to ensure they have not been damaged and are working properly.
Failure to pay attention to fire safety in your workplace could have disastrous results. So the team at Harston Fire has come up with these simple to follow guidelines to ensure you are meeting all of your legal safety requirements and that you protect your premises and your people fire safe.
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 applies to all businesses. That’s why the ‘responsible person’ (ie the person who has responsibility for fire safety in your organisation) should carry out a risk assessment of the premises before re-opening. If your building has been empty for a considerable amount of time, this will be particularly important in terms of identifying faulty equipment and ensuring you have the appropriate extinguishers and signage in place.
What’s more, you may have had to make essential changes to your building (internally and externally) to accommodate customers and visitors under the new Covid-19 rules. If this is the case, any previous fire risk assessments may no longer be valid.
Again, if you have had to make changes to your premises during lockdown and to re-open safely, then it’s also important to check all escape routes and emergency exits and to ensure that you have the correct and most appropriate signage in place.
For example, you may have had to change the entrance and exit routes in and out of your business, which could mean that fire exits will have to change too. That’s why it’s so important to ensure you have the correct signage in place, particularly if your customers aren’t yet used to the changes you have had to put in place.
The government has made it clear that altering premises to reduce COVID-19 risk should only occur if it doesn’t compromise fire safety. So, wedging fire doors open, for example is not permitted.
The same applies to assembly points as the changes you have had to introduce could also impact on where people should assemble in the event of a fire.
All fire safety equipment such as alarms and extinguishers should be inspected before you re-open to ensure they are not damaged and also to check that they are located in the correct place. It is also a legal requirement to have your fire extinguishers serviced at least once a year by a qualified engineer (whether you have been open or not).
A service will also ensure that fire extinguishers are in date and haven’t been tampered with or misused, as well as having the right signage and, if appropriate, alarms.
Again, if you have had to alter the lay out of your commercial premises in any way like providing a covered outdoor space, then you may need additional fire safety equipment to keep customers safe.
If you do have to make changes to your fire safety strategy and equipment, then it’s important that you communicate these changes to your staff (particularly those trained in how to use extinguishers for example) and even customers if necessary.
This could apply in a cinema or theatre for example, where entry and egress locations have changed to create a one-way system for viewers which impacts on where fire exits are located.
It’s also a good idea to conduct a fire drill so you can be sure that your emergency exit strategy has not been compromised.
If you’re not 100% sure that you have in place the safety measures, signage and fire safety equipment to keep staff and customers safe, then why not call the team at Hartson Fire.
Our experienced engineers can visit your business premises to inspect and service your equipment and advise on any issue you may have.
Find out more here or call us today on the number below: