No business owner or manager can afford to be ignorant of the basics of statutory fire regulations and how they directly affect the operation of businesses in the UK. There have been health and safety laws in place to help make business premises safer places for some time, but substantial changes to the fire safety laws came into effect in 2006. Putting yourself and other staff through appropriate safety training is essential to having a good understanding of safety regulations.

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order brought a lot of existing laws together and swept others away. The main thrust of the changes was to place the responsibility for safety very much with the employer. No longer could you expect a fire officer to come around and tell you exactly what you had to do. Business owners had to arrange to carry out their own fire risk assessments and then implement the findings of these.

It is the introduction of the fire risk assessment that is the single biggest shift in fire regulations in recent years. The work has to be carried out by someone who is competent to do so, and one of the challenges for people in charge of premises is to decide who is really capable of doing this work. For many small operations it is perfectly possible to carry out the assessment yourself, provided you follow some basic guidance. For more complicated, higher risk or larger premises, it is more advisable to involve a fire safety consultant in this work.

One of the dangers of course is that you may think you are competent, but if your knowledge of fire regulations is limited you may not be aware of the how much you do not know. The safest approach to begin with is often to use a consultant for your first assessment and then make a judgement about whether you can review it yourself thereafter. At least that way you can rest assured that you have not missed anything major. You could even include in the consultant’s work the task of training yourself or your staff in carrying out future fire risk assessments.

When you have completed your assessment, this will almost certainly lead onto other work that you need to do. It may highlight weaknesses in your staff training or in your emergency evacuation plans. You need plans in place that ensure anyone likely to be in your workplace can always get out safely. As well as making sure all staff understand their role in an emergency, this also means making sure that staff always keep fire exits clear, emergency exit doors unlocked, fire extinguishers in the proper place, etc.

Fire regulations cover much more than just an annual assessment, however. It is important to be aware of the laws relating to fire fighting equipment, emergency lighting, fire escape routes, fire alarm systems, staff training, etc. All work premises need to be fitted with appropriate fire fighting equipment. The number and type of appliances will depend on the nature of your business and the size of your premises. There is set guidance on how many extinguishers you need for a certain area and where these need to be located. Most office type environments can get away with water extinguishers, but it is always a good idea to have a carbon dioxide appliance for dealing with any fires involving electrical equipment. This knowledge is very important because using a water appliance on an electrical item could have disastrous results.

Author's Bio: 

Find out about all current fire regulations on K Garrow's website, which provides advice on many workplace safety issues including fire risk assessments, choosing fire consultants, staff training and emergency lighting regs.