09 March 2021. MW
Most fires are preventable. Those responsible for workplaces and other buildings to which individuals have access can avoid them by taking responsibility for and adopting the right behaviours and procedures. So, what practical steps can you take?
Fires need three things to start – a source of ignition (heat), a source of fuel (something that burns) and oxygen.
- Sources of ignition include heaters, lighting, naked flames, electrical equipment, smokers’ materials (cigarettes, matches etc), and anything else that can get very hot or cause sparks
- Sources of fuel include wood, paper, plastic, rubber or foam, loose packaging materials, waste rubbish and furniture
- Sources of oxygen include the air around us
These are all things that you can control or remove so that fire risks are minimised. Think about the risks of fire and explosions from the substances that you use or create in your business and consider how you might remove or reduce the risks. Use supplier safety data sheets as a source of information about which substances might be flammable. Consider reducing the amount of flammable/explosive substances you store on site. Keep sources of ignition (e.g. naked flames, sparks) and substances that burn (e.g. vapour, dusts) apart and safely contained. Always get rid of flammable/explosive substances safely. And maintain good housekeeping, e.g. avoid any build-up of rubbish, dust or grease that could start a fire or make one worse.
Many substances found in the workplace can cause fires or explosions. These range from the obvious, e.g. flammable chemicals, petrol, cellulose paint thinners and welding gases, to the less obvious – engine oil, grease, packaging materials, and dusts from wood, flour and sugar. It is important to be aware of the risks and to control, or get rid of them to prevent accidents.
The information above cover many practical and simple actions to minimise the risk of an unwanted fire at your property or site. But what are you required to do by law?
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 covers general fire safety in England and Wales. In Scotland, requirements on general fire safety are covered in Part 3 of the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005, supported by the Fire Safety (Scotland) Regulations 2006. The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) websitehas advice on the legislation, including premises-specific guidance documents designed to help you meet your responsibilities under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. The HSE website also has guidance on fire safety in the construction industry.
At the majority of premises, local fire and rescue authorities are responsible for enforcing this fire safety legislation. HSE has enforcement responsibility on construction sites, for nuclear premises, and on ships under construction or undergoing repair.
The Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR) require employers to assess the risk of fires and explosions arising from work activities involving dangerous substances, and to eliminate or reduce these risks.
So there are lots of practical steps you can take to reduce your risks of fire and there are plenty of requirements under the law that you need to comply with. If this leaves you feeling a little daunted there is no need to worry. There are plenty of professional service providers like MidlandsFRS who provide full surveys, risk assessments and staff training, along with Commercial Site Cover to ensure that fire risks are minimised and you can sleep peacefully.
If you would like more advice and a free site survey or information of safety training please feel free to contact us at Midlands Fire and Rescue Services.
Call: 03333 44 99 08
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