The coronavirus situation continues to present increased challenges for all businesses.
Staff sickness and changes in procedure to avoid contamination on your premises undoubtedly puts extra pressure on business owners, but this should not be at the expense of fire safety.
Whilst changes in procedure may help reduce the spread of the virus, there may be the adverse effect of increasing the fire risk.
Propping open fire doors may seem a sensible way of avoiding contamination on door handles, but this will leave your staff exposed to a faster spread of fire and smoke should the worst happen.
There is still a moral and legal obligation to maintain appropriate fire safety procedures at your place of work. If you are deviating from your normal fire safety plan, then ensure that all staff are aware of the changes and that everyone remains extra vigilant around the workplace. In addition, any significant changes should be recorded in your premises fire risk assessment and appropriate measures to mitigate the risk should be put in place.
If you have had to take the decision to suspend activity at your place of work, please make sure you have left it in as safe a manner as you are able so that it is safe and secure when you return.
In the meantime, please note the following which can be used as a quick guide:
- If your premises are unoccupied, ensure that all electrical appliances are switched off and the plugs are removed from sockets
- Ensure that all fire doors are securely closed
- Consider the impact of waste storage and build up which could pose a fire risk
- Think about how any reduced maintenance provision for your premises could cause a fire risk
- If you are the responsible person for a business or site then fire risk assessments and other legal obligations relating to the safety of your site, staff and visitors still apply, so review these as necessary.
For healthcare premises, care homes and similar sites with specialist staged evacuation procedures
- Ensure you have sufficient staffing levels to maintain your procedures effectively
- Review your emergency plan and risk assessments to ensure the safety of any visitors
- Contact us if you believe you may experience difficulties evacuating visitors, patients or residential areas due to low staffing
- If a fire does occur, dial 999 at the earliest opportunity and inform our operators that an evacuation is in progress