The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 now requires businesses to perform a fire risk assessment to determine fire hazards, prevent fires, and in the case of a fire, handle it in an appropriate manner. Appropriate training and tools are to be made available to all employees. Fire hazards must be identified, though in preventive terms, and it must be clear how they will be dealt with. |
The UK Regulatory Reform Order, becoming a law in 2006, is a compilation of previous laws and measures regarding fire safety from the past. The most recent piece of the puzzle is called the fire risk assessment and is a series of preventive steps a business must take. The assessment can be conducted by a Responsible Person, and it requires a business to provide the proper equipment and training in order to identify any fire hazard. This applies to use of materials used in the building, proper training measures, and access to escape routes. The assessment is a measure that aims to prevent fires from ever occurring, and if they do, to ensure that there is an organised process to maintain the safety of employees and other people in the building.
Identifying flammable, combustible, and explosive substances and materials is a good way to begin a fire assessment. Identifying processes involving these materials is also a crucial component in identifying these as potential fire hazards. Chemicals that are stored or used in the building could include but are not limited to any kind of petroleum product, paint, varnish, and solvent. It is important to train employees to store these chemicals in proper containers, minimise their use, and handle them in a safe and conscientious manner. Handling in a safe and conscientious manner includes keeping chemicals separate, and those that are incompatible never combined. It is also a good idea to keep all dangerous chemical to a minimum level of storage.
Another concern is the build up of dust, due to sanding, grinding, or milling. Dust and vapors mixed into the air can create an explosive environment. Well ventilated work areas and eliminating possible sources of ignition will help extinguish this particular fire hazard. Less daily work activities, such as monthly upkeeps or cleaning should be taken into consideration as well. It is recommended the work place be kept at a normal temperature. Taking these precautions will limit risks due to fire hazards.
A business is also required to provide training and resources in case a fire is ignited. The Regulatory Reform Order requires a number of established procedures to be taken in case damage caused by fire hazards occurs. The Order requires the business to have the tools necessary to extinguish a fire that is still containable. This may include a fire extinguisher, an open water source, or a way to smother the flame, dependent on the given situation. It is important, when dealing with a fire hazard to train employees to react in proper manner; ie whether to fight the fire or abandon it.
If a fire is out of control an employee is trained to sound the alarm and begin evacuation. A well working, weekly tested alarm system is required to give warning to all people in the building. The staff need to be well trained in the evacuation process and the fire exits are required to be well lit and unobstructed. The Order requires training to be up to date on the potential threat and actions to be taken due to fire hazards, the information must also be available in the publication of an Emergency Plan and Emergency Procedures manual for the business.
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