January 22, 2010 - Administrator
Four out of ten businesses are failing to comply with fire regulations by not carrying out fire safety risk assessments, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has revealed.
The DCLG's figures are based on fire and rescue service statistics for 2008/09. The research also revealed that fire authorities are increasingly clamping down on errant firms, with more than 3,000 enforcement notices issued by fire services last year, and 60 firms prosecuted – a jump of 43 per cent in twelve months.
Under the Fire Safety Order (2005), all business owners are obliged to conduct regular risk assessments and maintain a fire management plan that identifies possible fire hazards and advises on safety measures. Businesses are obliged to tell their staff about the plan.
According to Aviva Risk Management Solutions (ARMS), typical workplace breaches of fire safety law can include blocking fire exits, propping open fire doors and failing to train staff in evacuation procedures.
"As the figures show, this is not going unnoticed by the authorities and it is leading to enforcement action," said ARMS health and safety consultant, Andrew Couch. "Failing in the basic responsibilities of completing fire risk assessments means that firms are not only breaking the law, but also not managing the hazards on their premises &ndash firms should be aware that successful prosecutions can lead to hefty fines."
A Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA) spokesman said that carrying out a fire risk assessment was straightforward and most business owners could easily complete one themselves.
"Local fire and rescue services are often able to offer practical advice," he said.
"Aside from assessing the risks in the workplace, businesses can also reduce the risk of fire by educating staff in fire prevention."