Fire Risks in the Workplace
Following the fire that tragically destroyed Grenfell Tower in West London on June 14th, it is important that employers are made aware of their legal obligations when carrying out fire risk assessments and what procedures they should follow in relation to this.
The Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 and the Fire (Scotland) Regulations 2006 have replaced most workplace fire regulations. Under this legislation, those who are responsible for fire safety in the workplace include:
-The occupier; and
-Anyone else with control of these premises
What do you have to do?
Employers are legally obliged to carry out fire risk assessments and keep these documents up to date, this is similar to a health and safety assessment.
Depending on the findings of this assessment, an employer will have to ensure that the appropriate measures are then put in place to minimise any risks. You must then take action to control these risks and consider how you will protect people in the event of a fire.
If you are responsible, you should take steps to prevent the impact a fire may have to the work environment. It is your responsibility to prepare and maintain any fire safety measures which will be required in order to safeguard anyone in the workplace – this includes visitors!
-When safeguarding employees, employers must appoint individuals to specific roles that may be required in an emergency plan;
-Employers should consult their employees of who has been nominated to carry out any role in connection with the fire and safety proposals;
-On carrying out fire and safety risk assessments, employers should inform anyone else that shares the building of any significant risks found;
-If you do not employ anyone else, yet, in control of a premise, you are legally obliged to ensure fire legislation is complied with in any area that you have control over;
-Employers should establish a sufficient means of reaching the emergency services and arrange that they can be easily reached;
-In some buildings, there may be a requirement of a licence before the business can operate, your local authority can inform you of this
The Equality Act 2010
When carrying out a fire risk assessment, the first aspect to be identified is, those who are at risk. Employers should assess those who are most vulnerable, E.G. children and those with a disability.
The Equality Act 2010 provides that those with a disability should not be treated less favourably. An employer should ensure there is arrangements in place to safely evacuate disabled employees/visitors from the building. You may be held liable for discrimination should you fail to implement this into your evacuation plan. It is important to note in this instance; the definition of a disability is not just restricted to physical disabilities.
Other measures to safeguard those that have a disability under the Equality Act 2010 include, providing clear, concise instructions and maps with diagrams that set out how disabled employees can get to a place of safety.
Additional information on fire safety
You can find a comprehensive guide to fire and safety by visiting the Scottish Government website through this link http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Justice/policies/police-fire-rescue/fire/FireLaw
Failure to comply with the law, even unintentionally, can leave your business vulnerable to costly Employment Tribunal claims. Seeking Employment Law Advice from qualified employment law practitioners can help you ensure you safely manage issues in arguably one of the most complex areas for any business to get to grips with.
Employers concerned about how these new regulations might impact them can take advantage of Employment Law Services (ELS) free consultation service – Contact us today to arrange your free consultation.