COVID-19 Fire Safety Advice for Businesses
COVID-19 has changed the landscape of the entire country, particularly for businesses. For the foreseeable future, lives, jobs and operations have been changed and we’ll all be working to find ways of moving forwards. Few sectors in the business world have been left untouched because of the lockdown measures used to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, but what does the future look like for those businesses still continuing?
This month we’re going to look at how COVID-19 has impacted businesses and provide guidance on fire safety for companies continuing to operate or looking to reopen in some capacity.
How COVID-19 Has and Will Impact Businesses
Since March 2020, many businesses have been unable to operate in any capacity due to strict guidelines on which businesses are deemed essential. Some non-essential businesses have been able to carry on due to their ability to provide contactless service, but where close quarters are required, it’s been against the rules to reopen.
This will mean a number of different things for different businesses, but one thing it certainly impacts is fire safety for commercial premises. Whether your building, shop or complex has been re-imagined as a different working space or it’s been totally unoccupied and you’re looking to start up again, there is plenty to consider.contact us today
Fire Risk Assessments for Businesses
All non-domestic premises require a fire risk assessment, and while it might not feel necessary if the business is not actually running right now, if anything, it’s more necessary than ever. It’s your legal duty to ensure everything has been done to reduce the risk of a fire and protect lives.
Those who were expecting a periodic review of their risk assessment may have postponed it, but here’s why it shouldn’t be put off any longer.
- If you plan to open your business soon, it’ll be easier to have a risk assessment carried out for the empty property, helping with social distancing and ensuring the building is ready for staff to return to.
- For those businesses not due to have an annual review, but with changes to where staff or materials will be located, it’s important to have a new fire risk assessment to ensure that new arrangements are adhering to fire safety guidelines.
Fire Risk Assessment COVID-19 Checklist
Fire Extinguishers for Businesses
If you’re planning on reopening your business, you’ll want to ensure fire safety equipment is in good working order. Whether you had a maintenance schedule for this or not, now is the time to check that your equipment is legally compliant and useable when needed most.
You may also wish to think about the placement of fire extinguishers. These will have been strategically placed to provide coverage where needed, but a change in the way your premises are laid out or staffed due to social distancing may mean the extinguisher units are needed elsewhere. A professional fire risk assessment can help determine this,
If you have limited staff members returning to work, ensure that there are enough people trained to handle and use fire extinguishers. This leads on to our next point about training.
Training for Businesses
Whether your company is returning to business with temporarily reduced numbers or a more permanent reduction in staffing has been required, training remains vitally important. If previously trained staff haven’t returned, you’ll have to look at training new staff. This helps to protect your business with enough individuals knowledgeable about fire safety and the following elements:
- Fire drills
- Evacuations points and procedures
- Equipment handling (such as extinguishers)
- Fire risk assessment reviews
Fire Drills for Businesses
As with the above, any changes in your workforce could mean that you need to readdress fire drills. New staff may not be aware of evacuation plans, and now is the time to ensure that they are trained so they know what to do in the event of a fire.
If your business has been closed for months on end but is finally getting back to business, it’s advisable that fire drills are carried out with the staff to refresh them on safety procedures. This reminds staff – especially nominated wardens – of what to do in an emergency, but it could also highlight where changes need to be made if staff have been moved around or relocated to another area of the building.
In addition, social distancing measures – such as one-way systems – should never compromise fire safety. The means of escape for your staff should be assessed so that you’re not funnelling too many people through restricted routes or making them travel further to reach a proper means of escape. Escape routes should always be accessible, even if the number of staff in the building is limited.
City Fire Protection Working With Businesses
At City Fire Protection, we provide a comprehensive range of services to businesses across all sectors. We want to help make sure that your business is safe, legally compliant and in the best possible position to reopen after the COVID-19 lockdown. We can provide an up-to-date fire risk assessment, advice and guidance on fire extinguishers or training for you and your staff.
Contact our team today to discuss your fire safety requirements for your business – regardless of how large or small – and we’ll be on hand to provide guidance and assistance.