Worldwide, fire and explosions cause the largest losses for businesses. Around 70% of businesses fail within three years of a major fire.
Thus, when it comes to fire, prevention is clearly much better than cure. But it’s impossible to predict when, where and why a fire may break out. Therefore, a culture of fire prevention must prevail throughout the organisation, from top to bottom.
The latest Fire Prevention and Protection Statistics published by the Home Office demonstrate that the number of Home Fire Safety Checks (HFSCs) in England continues to decrease year on year, as Fire and Rescue Services also continue to focus on fire awareness and prevention initiatives.
How can managers ensure their organisation is fire safety aware?
In the UK, employers have a legal duty to prevent fires. This includes a responsibility to train all staff in fire prevention.
However, the means by which they achieve this is largely their decision. It can be hard to determine the best approach, not least because there are key differences between staff members and even sectors when it comes to fire prevention.
Due to the commonplace nature of workplace fires and the devastation they cause, organisations must provide fire safety training that will be genuinely absorbed, retained and acted upon by staff at all levels. This is quite clearly in the best interests of the business, its workforce and the public.
‘Box ticking’, in the form of providing low-grade fire training because ‘we’ve always done it this way’ or ‘we don’t have time to research alternative providers’, is frankly dangerous in financial, commercial, personal and reputational terms.
What other obligations do employers have when it comes to fire safety?
It is a legal requirement to undertake a fire risk assessment for business that employ more than five people. Regularly reviewing this will help you to identify hazards, people at risk and give you a solid foundation to build training and emergency plans that are unique to your business.
The use of an effective fire safety management system helps to manage audits and identify corrective actions, embedding a fire safety culture. This helps ensure everyone is conscious of fire risks and does everything possible to reduce them. A safety management system can also be used to manage and track safety training, including courses on fire safety.
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