In October 2006 the legislation governing fire safety in the UK was changed. The new Regulatory Reform Order, or Fire Safety order as it is referred to, came into effect in the UK that year. This placed a lot of new responsibilities on employers and business managers, and many people do not have the skills or experience to undertake the work required under the new law. This is where fire consultants can be very helpful in not only internpreting what the law means for each business, but also implementing the works that are required.

The new Fire Safety Order puts the responsibility of fire safety directly on the building owners, the employers, and also the employees. The new legislation includes all non-domestic buildings that are in Wales, Northern Ireland, and England. Most of the United Kingdom is covered by this legislation. If you are an employer, a self employed person who owns business property, a contractor who is responsible for premises, or if you just are responsible for any business premises then the new Order will affect you. Voluntary organisations as well as charities are also affected by it.

You will no longer need to worry about having a fire certificate as this new legislation replaces the need for that. In effect it introduces some new requirements and brings together lots of previous pieces of legislation. If you are prepared with a good fire risk assessment and have all your plans in order the safety order will not cost you anything. If you have not carried out a fire risk assessment for your workplace, then you are in breach of the requirements and therefore should take action without delay. As well as assessing risks and ensuring your premises and systems are safe, you also have to inform your employees on what to do in the event of a fire and make sure they understand the findings of your assessment.

A fire risk assessment is a five step process that helps you assess risks to your employees and to the public who may be on your property. It will also find any weak points to your fire safety program you presently have in place. A fire risk assessment will help you to implement the safety practices and emergency procedures that you need to make your premises safe.

Whoever is in charge of fire safety is also responsible for the fire assessment and it is up to them to put things in order so your employees are protected from fire. If you have a large premise you may wish to hire an outside source to manage the risk assessment, particularly if you have not done one before, or if your premises are quite large or complicated. There are fire consultants whose job it is to assess the risk and to tell you what must be done to protect your employees and the public.

The fire safety order does not specify what you need for your premises. It does tell you that there must be adequate safety implemented for your particular building. You must make sure there are adequate safety measures, such as fire doors and exits, and a plan in place that the employees are aware of. It is up to the responsible person in charge of fire prevention to see that this is done.

If you do not follow the order you can be taken to court, so make sure you have your emergency plans in order.

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Find out about the Fire Safety Order 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.