Fire: Best Practice for Emergency Escape Routes

All businesses occupying premises need to organise their workspaces so there is easy access to escape routes in the event of an emergency, such as a fire. Good, clear signage and exits that employees can reach without encountering obstructions are vital.

It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure the safety of all personnel and to protect equipment and materials as far as possible to prevent damage and further danger.

Fire safety legislation

In the UK, it is a legal requirement that employers put in place certain safeguards against fire and other dangers. These safeguards include, but are not limited to, the following:

Risk assessments

Conducting a detailed and thorough risk assessment is the key to getting fire safety procedures right in a place of work – and indeed the home. Sometimes it can be difficult to know where to start, especially if premises are sizeable and used for several different functions, such as material storage and handling, manufacturing, administration and trading.

A methodical approach is best, so decide which format will be used to record risks and identify ways to prevent or reduce those risks. This could be in physical or electronic form, for example.

Start by examining the following areas:

  • Equipment for fire detection and firefighting
  • Emergency escape routes
  • Procedures for working in dangerous areas
  • Plans of action for evacuating buildings in the event of an emergency, particularly when danger is imminent
  • Maintenance and servicing of fire detection and firefighting equipment
  • Employee information
  • Employee training

The simplest way to assess fire risk is to ask basic questions regarding fire safety on your premises and build a checklist from there.

What to look for

 When checking equipment, make sure the type of fire deterrent installed is suitable for the kinds of materials that may burn. There is a difference between the type of fire extinguisher suitable for paper, wood and textiles, compared to those used on flammable fluids and electrical equipment, for example.

Employees should be aware of which types of extinguishers and fire blankets are suitable for outbreaks of fire in different areas, and how to use them. Nominated individuals should be suitably trained and all routes to exits should be clearly marked.

Essentially, dealing with fire safety legislation requires common sense and a willingness to introduce best practice in order to meet legal requirements.

Disclaimer: The information provided through Legislation Watch is for general guidance only and is not legal advice. Legislation Watch is not a substitute for Health and Safety consultancy. You should seek independent advice about any legal matter.

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