Did you know that on average there are 25,000 fires in non-residential buildings in the UK every year? A significant proportion happen in workplaces and although every workplace is different there are common hazards that you should look out for to reduce your risk.
One of the biggest causes of blazes inside and outside the workplace are electrical fires – in fact it’s estimated that over half of all accidental house fires in the UK are caused by electricity.
To help raise awareness about the potential dangers and save lives, a nationwide campaign called Electrical Fire Safety Week is starting on Monday and will run from November 22 to November 28.
What is Electrical Fire Safety Week?
Electrical Safety First is the campaigning name of the Electrical Safety Council which is dedicated to reducing the number of injuries and deaths caused by electricity across the UK.
Although a lot of the campaign will focus on the simple steps that people can take to avoid a devastating blaze in their homes, the campaign’s general safety messages are useful for organisations as well and it’s great to see this issue being put under the spotlight.
One of the easiest ways to follow the campaign during the week is to use the hashtag #EFSW on social media.
What can I do to prevent a fire in my workplace?
There are lots of things we can all do to help protect our workplaces.
There are also some simple things you can do such as ensuring that sockets are not overloaded with equipment, retiring old appliances, unplugging unused appliances and moving flammable objects away from sockets. The picture with this article shows you some of the things that our trained consultants have discovered during site inspections which could present a risk and would need addressing.
The HSE is very clear that if you’re the designated ‘responsible person’ you must adopt the right behaviours and procedures to prevent blazes.
The responsible person could be the employer if the workplace is to any extent under your control, for example you run the company, it is a family-owned business or you are self-employed.
You could be the responsible person even if you are not the employer if have some degree of control over the premises where there isn’t a traditional employer or employee relationship or where volunteers are involved. For example in places such as village halls, scout huts, charity shops or places of worship.
You would also be the responsible person if you own a commercial premises and it is not legally under someone else’s control, for example if the property is derelict.
The responsible person must carry out a fire safety risk assessment and keep it up to date. Based on the findings of the assessment, they need to ensure that adequate and appropriate fire safety measures are in place to minimise the risk of injury or loss of life in the event of a fire.
To help prevent a blaze in the workplace, the risk assessment should identify what could cause a fire to start, for example sources of ignition such as heat or sparks and substances that burn, and the people who may be at risk.
Once the risks have been identified, the designated responsible person must take the appropriate action to control them and consider how they will protect people if there is a blaze.
Do I really need to carry out a fire risk assessment?
The short answer to this is yes. Fire risk assessments are required in the UK for non-domestic properties and for the communal areas of rented properties.
Local fire and rescue authorities carry out inspections of premises to ensure that they are compliant and that you are fully undertaking your duties.
The officers can issue notices telling you what changes are needed to improve the standards of the building and failing to comply with these can result in fines or even prison.
The good news is you don’t have to worry about personally carrying out a fire risk assessment. At Acorn Safety Services we offer a wide range of health and safety services, including Fire Risk Assessments.
Our professional consultants have undertaken fire risk assessments within all types of workplaces, including offices, shops, factories, warehouses, beauty salons, holiday lets, schools and apartment blocks.
So, you can be confident that we have the expertise, knowledge and experience to assist you whether your business is big or small.