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The Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations 1997 protects employees from the likelihood of injury due to fires in the workplace. The regulations demand that businesses with more than five workers must have a documented fire-risk assessment that details any necessary fire safety work. In order to protect their employees, businesses must provide them with fire and safety training following the completion of their written risk assessment.

The importance of Fire Safety Training for your employees

All employees must undergo basic fire safety training upon joining a company. Their health and safety at work knowledge should then be updated on a regular basis with the aid of refresher courses. By providing staff members with adequate training, businesses can help their employees to ensure their own safety and that of others present on the premises.

During fire safety training, staff must ensure that they understand the emergency plan put in place by their company. They should be able to appreciate the importance of fire prevention and of fire escape procedures. Staff should be allowed to walk through the emergency plan. This will enable them to familiarise themselves with the escape routes in the areas in which they work. They should also know how to use basic fire fighting equipment and realise the necessity of reporting to assembly areas. They should also be provided with training on the assistance of disabled individuals in the event of a fire.

The training provided to staff should support the work of the fire safety manager, the business’ fire safety strategy, and the emergency plan. It is essential for businesses to retain proof of staff training efforts as the relevant authorities may wish to inspect these records.

How to notice potential fire hazards

A fire risk assessment will help a business to identify fire hazards in the workplace. For a fire to occur a source of ignition, fuel and oxygen are required. When all three of these factors are present, and are in close range of each other, the risk of experiencing a fire in the workplace increases. Potential ignition sources include, but are not limited to: naked flames, hot surfaces, hot work, friction and sparks. Potential fuel sources include anything that burns. Examples of fuel sources include: solids, such as textiles and paper; liquids, such as solvents, paints and adhesives; and gases, such as LPG and acetylene. A fire risk assessment should detail the potential ignition and fuel sources in the workplace.

How to neutralise fire hazards

Once fire hazards have been identified, it is essential to implement control measures to reduce the risk of fire to an acceptable level. Control measures may include: reducing the chances of ignition, minimising the potential fuel load in the workplace, and assisting employees and others present on the premises to escape from the building should a fire occur.

In order to control the risk of fire, businesses must implement fire safety management systems, provide staff training, install fire warning systems, ensure clear means of escape, and equipment for fighting small fires. Any areas of inadequacy relating to the reduction of the risk of fire should be identified and an action plan written to detail the way in which the problem is to be addressed. This plan should detail timescales for achieving the necessary level of control and the person responsible for this action.

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