Rules and regulations should always be followed, especially with regards to fire safety. If a law has been broken or regulations not followed, then it can mean the difference between life and death. Despite the growth in performance that the industry has had over the last decade, the risk of injury, death and ill health are still too high.
However, the risks are not just limited to construction site workers. Other members of the public that happen to be near the site can also be injured if fire safety regulations are not being followed. Fires can of course spread, and any property that is adjacent to a construction site that has a large enough fire can be damaged.
Therefore, it is incredibly important to ensure that the correct people oversee fire regulations and are held responsible for following the rules.
One of the main laws that need to be followed is the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO).
Who is responsible?
FSO requires that a ‘responsible person’ must be designated as the fire safety officer. This person is usually the principal or main contractor in charge of the site.
It is also the client or other duty holders’ responsibility to ensure that the correct information is provided before starting construction work in order to ensure that adequate provision of precautions can be developed. The owner or occupier must also supply the contractor with sufficient health and safety information so that hazards and risks can be identified so that the correct procedures can be put in place.
What are the responsibilities?
The fire safety officer will need to complete a risk assessment and ensure that it consistently kept up to date. The business or building owner will be responsible for ensuring that this assessment gets carried out. This will need to be regularly reviewed in order to ensure that the documentation is constantly up to date. You could consider bringing in an expert, such as an IFE-registered risk assessor, if a comprehensive assessment is required.
Appropriate measures will need to be taken in order to minimise any risks to safety. Sources of fuel must be identified, and precautions must be taken, such as identifying fire escapes, and warning of and fighting fires, based on the risk assessment.
A warning system must be set up in order to alert people to any fires. This can be in the form of a temporary or permanent mains fitted fire alarm that is tested regularly, a klaxon, an air horn or whistle, however, this completely depends on the size of the building site. The warning will need to be recognisable by everyone and audible above all other noise.
Means of escape
Fire safety regulations set out that safe routes must be identified so that people can leave the building safely in the event of a fire. The risk assessment should determine the fire escape routes required (which have to be kept unobscured and clear), alternative routes to ground level should be provided where possible. Protection can also be provided if the correct fire doors and permanent fire separation are installed as soon as possible. Escape routes should allow people to congregate in a safe place where people can be accounted for. Fire escape routes must also be sign posted so that people unaware of the routes can easily find them. For enclosed escape routes, lighting should also be used.
Consequences of breaking the law
The local fire and rescue authorities may visit the construction site in order to make sure that the risk assessment has been conducted, and to ensure that appropriate fire prevention measures are in place.
If they deem that the measures are inadequate, then an informal notice can be issued. The local authorities can also issue a formal notice, and will inform you of how to fix the safety issues. An alterations notice could also be issued. This could be issued if the premises have high safety concerns or will have high risks if the premises changes. If a serious risk isn’t being managed, then an enforcement notice can be issued. It will detail what improvements are needed and by when. A prohibition notice could be issued if the fire and rescue authorities deem the site unsafe and the premises must be prohibited or restricted.
You can appeal to these notices if you disagree with the notices issued. You can arrange for an informal review from the local fire and rescue authorities. Within 21 days, you can appeal to the local magistrates’ court regarding the notice.
If fire safety regulations are not met, then there can be serious consequences, and you could even go to prison or get a fine. Fines of up to £5000 can be issued for minor offenses. Major offenses can have any fine issued and up to 2 years in prison.
In conclusion, it is incredibly important to ensure that all fire safety regulations are being followed and that the correct people are taking the correct level of responsibility in order to prevent injury or death. The main law to be followed is the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO). It’s also important to make sure it’s being followed so that no fines or sanctions are imposed.
If you have any questions regarding fire safety regulations, please get in touch.