A Quick Guide.
The latest legislation affects all employers and employees in the UK.
UK fire safety provisions are scattered across more than 100 different pieces of legislation, all with many implications on businesses, and some with overlaps between their requirements.
This can be confusing to businesses as they attempt to become compliant with this raft of legislation. The aim of the Fire Safety Order - that will be introduced under the Regulatory Reform Order - is to ‘simplify, rationalize and consolidate existing legislation’.
Summary of Consultation Document
Fire certificates will be no longer issued.
Each individual company will be responsible for their own fire safety. The employer must conduct a fire risk assessment regardless of the size of the risk. The identified responsible person would therefore take full corporate liability.
If five or more people are employed, this risk assessment must be documented.
Extended scope of consideration now to include property safety, fire fighter safety and the environment around the site as well as just protecting life. This means that allowing a building to be sacrificed is unacceptable due to the risk to neighboring buildings and fire fighters. The responsible person would have a duty to protect the fire brigade.
Unlike the Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations, the Fire Safety Order places emphasis on business continuity and containing and preventing the spread of small fires. The effectiveness of fire extinguishers is clearly recognized as a major provision in doing just this.
Protection is explicitly extended to all occupants and not just employees. Visitors, contractors or passers-by also have to be considered in the risk assessment.
Fire fighters are to have greater authority to gain entry to premises and remove samples after a fire.
What are the implications for business?
With building fire safety being solely risk assessment led, the government believes the removal of fire certificates will save businesses £1.7m per year. The long term saving if all businesses carry out a fire risk assessment could be around £110 million based on a reduction of workplace fires.
Overall the legislation will be less burdensome and clearer, with the fire brigade reinforcing the Safety Order’s requirements.
Who is responsible?
Employer with control of a workplace, failing that…
Person with overall management of a building
Occupier of premises
Owner of premises (i.e. empty buildings)
Whilst other people like landlords have some control, the primary responsibility rest with employer
The responsible person will be held accountable. Under the Order he will be strongly be advised to nominate a competent supplier, one that can demonstrate it has ‘the appropriate skills and experience’. Both or either party may be held responsible at the time of inspection or post incident.
Whilst renewing the focus on the fire risk assessments and training the Order will state that fire brigades can advise on but not carry out fire risk assessments.