The Fire Safety Regulations or the Regulatory (Fire Safety) Order 2005 came into effect in 2006. The Order dictates that where premises exist as a workplace, the employer is usually the person responsible for fire safety.
Therefore, it is vitally important that employers have a firm understanding of their fire risk management responsibilities.
Below we share some questions we’ve been asked by employers when it comes to the fire safety regulations.
What are my legal obligations when it comes to providing fire safety training to my staff?
As an employer, you are responsible for training your staff in fire safety. You must provide employees with all the relevant fire safety information.
In addition to staff training, you must ensure that you keep written records as proof of training and compliance.
Failure to comply with Articles 19 and 21 of the Fire Safety Order will result in prosecution.
If my staff are fully trained, do they take fully responsibility for fire safety?
No, by law, employers can still be liable for any wrongful acts of their employees under the Fire Safety Order.
For instance, you may have trained your staff in the companies fire safety policies and procedures. You may have given the team information regarding what to do in the event of a fire. But, if a member of staff puts the lives of others at risk, you can still be liable.
Therefore, even if an employee does not follow the correct procedures, you are responsible for their actions.
In our Fire Safety courses, we discuss Fire Safety Regulations and Compliance in more detail.
I don’t actually work from the business premises. Can I assume that means I’m not responsible for breaches in fire safety legislation?
It states in Article 3 of the FSO that if; “the workplace is to any extent under his control,” then an employer can be impeachable as a “responsible person”.
So, although many employers have no fixed workplace (i.e. carers, cleaners or other sub-contractors). Under Articles 19 and 21, it could still be argued that they have a duty to provide fire safety management to employees. Therefore ensuring they are provided with relevant fire safety training.
Therefore, because you are expected to ‘have control over your employees’, the FSO often applies even in circumstances where you do not have direct control of the workplace.
Is it true that as a Director I can be personally liable for the actions of the company?
Yes, this is true.
Where an offence has been committed by a company and there is evidence to suggest the acts or omissions of a director have contributed to the offence, then the Director can be personally liable. As a Director, you could receive a prison sentence of up to 2 years for each offence.
To protect myself from prosecution, should I just get help from an external consultant?
Simply using other fire safety specialists to conduct fire risk assessments and fire alarm maintenance etc. is not enough. Article 18 dictates that the responsible person must ensure the competence of anyone undertaking protective/preventative measures on behalf of employers.
The employer must ensure that anyone who carries out a fire risk assessment is competent. This means that they have sufficient fire safety knowledge, qualifications and experience. Failure to do so would lead to a breach of Article 18 by you, the employer.
If a third-party completes my fire risk assessment. Is it still the employer’s responsibility to ensure it is suitable and sufficient?
Yes, this is correct. As required by Article 9, fire risk assessments should be suitable and sufficient for the premises in question. Article 18 does not apply to the instruction of fire risk assessors. There is no universally recognised qualification or accreditation needed for a person to become a fire risk assessor. Therefore the ultimate responsibility for the suitability and sufficiency of a fire risk assessment rests with you as the employer.
Should I have a fire safety policy in place?
Yes, all employers should have a fire safety policy. The policy should identify the person responsible for fire safety at board or management level.
The Government has provided guidance for different types of premises. These documents state that companies should write their own fire safety policy. Firstly, the policy should state who is responsible for fire safety throughout the organisation. Secondly, it should identify the people responsible for fire safety at each set of premises the organisation is responsible for. Finally, it should detail the arrangements that are required by the FSO. Ensuring that they are met by each individual person responsible for fire safety.
Under Article 11, failure to comply with this aspect of the order will result in an offence.
We share the premises with another business, what’s the rules around fire safety?
In terms of fire safety management, employers must cooperate with other employers if premises are shared.
Employers may share facilities and premises with other employers or organisations. In this situation, all those responsible for fire risk management must cooperate with one other. They must ensure that in the event of a fire, the entirety of the premises are safe.
Under Article 22, failure to cooperate will lead to an offence.
Envesca offers two levels of fire courses, both of which offer advice and guidance on The Regulatory (Fire Safety) Order 2005.