Navigating Workplace Fire Safety: Unveiling Employee Responsibilities, Legal Duties, and Regulations

As an owner of a business, it can be difficult to keep up with all the laws and regulations you must follow. To guide you through life as an employer, we have summarised everything you need to know about one of the most important regulations: workplace fire safety. From what fire safety in the workplace legislation means to what the legal responsibilities of employees are, we take a deep dive into all the fundamentals of fire safety at work. 

  • Why is Fire Safety at Work Important?
  • What is Fire Safety in the Workplace Legislation?
  • Who is Responsible for Enforcing Fire Safety?
  • What are the Fire Safety Responsibilities for Employers?
  • What are the Legal Responsibilities of Employees in Terms of Fire Safety?
  • What Responsibilities Do All Staff Have During a Fire Incident?

Why is Fire Safety at Work Important? 

As an employer, you have a duty of care towards your employees. This is particularly relevant in the event of a fire. During an emergency, you don’t want your employees to panic, which could cause further disruption and risk the safety of other employees. This is why you should have fire safety plans in place to ensure your employees are protected in the event of a fire and to provide your staff with a sense of ease whilst working at your business. 

However, this is not just a suggestion. There are Fire Safety Legislations that make this law. 

What is Fire Safety in the Workplace Legislation?

In 2005, there was a Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) that replaced over 70 laws on fire safety. This reform is now referred to as the Fire Safety Order. This legislation details what the responsibilities of employers and employees are regarding fire safety at work.  

What Happens if You Breach Fire Safety Regulations?

It is a criminal offence not to comply with the Fire Safety Order. If you were to breach the Fire Safety Order, there are severe consequences in place. For example, there is no maximum fine for fire safety breaches. In the past, companies that have failed to comply with the Fire Safety Order have been fined over £800,000, showing the severity of violating the regulations. 

Additionally, you could face imprisonment in some cases. This shows the importance of following the rules and regulations surrounding fire safety at work to ensure not only your own safety but also that of your employees. 

Who is Responsible for Enforcing Fire Safety?

The responsibility of fire safety in a workplace doesn’t just fall on the employer. There are also other significant figures that have a duty of care to the occupants of different properties, including: 

  • Owners
  • Landlords 
  • Occupiers 
  • Other members of staff that have control of the property. For example, facilities managers or building managers.

If you have any of these roles, you are known as the ‘responsible person’ when it comes to fire safety at work. This means you have a duty to carry out the responsibilities set out in the Fire Safety Order to ensure the safety of others on the premises. 

What are the Fire Safety Responsibilities of Employers?

As a ‘responsible person,’ it is crucial you understand what your role entails. The responsible person has a number of responsibilities, such as: 

  • Carry Out Risk Assessments: Risk assessments are essential in identifying any potential dangers to staff and mitigating the risks of harm to employees by implementing measures. 
  • Consider Relevant People At Risk: This means specifying those that are at greater risk of harm in the event of a fire. 
  • Remove and Reduce the Risk of Fire: Ensure staff understand the dangers of fire and if the equipment they use poses a threat. For example, maintaining the proper use of electrical items. 
  • Ensure Fire Safety Equipment is Maintained and Training is Delivered: All properties must have adequate fire safety equipment that can be used in the event of a fire. This includes any fire extinguishers or fire blankets. Staff should also be trained on how to use this equipment should they need to.  
  • Prepare a Plan for Emergency: This is one of the most important elements of fire safety. Having a plan for what all staff must do in the event of a fire will reduce panic and the risk of harm to others. It may also be a good idea to have this emergency plan in an Emergency Plans Box so visitors can access this information if needed. 
  • Provide Staff with Training and Fire Safety Information: Preparing staff for actions to take in the event of a fire will allow for less panic and a quicker evacuation in the case of an emergency. If staff have been assigned roles such as Fire Marshal, it is crucial they receive the appropriate Fire Marshal Training to allow them to perform their duties correctly. 
  • What are the Legal Responsibilities of Employees in Terms of Fire Safety?

    Unless they have been appointed a specific role, such as Fire Marshal, the legal responsibilities of employees are simple. The two main legal requirements of employees in the workplace in the event of a fire are to not put others in danger and to follow the fire safety procedures that they have been briefed about. Additionally, they must also inform the ‘responsible person’ of any potential fire hazards that may not have been identified to help protect all staff members. 

    If an employee has been assigned a specific fire safety role, they must fulfill their duties. For example, as a Fire Marshal, some key responsibilities may include raising the alarm, notifying authorities when a fire is detected, ensuring fire doors are closed, and helping other staff members evacuate in a safe and orderly manner. 

    What Responsibilities Do All Staff Have During a Fire Incident?

    Regardless of the role an employer or employee may have during a fire incident, it is crucial that all staff remain calm, evacuate the premises safely and quickly and not put others at risk. Any emergency event can be stressful and cause panic, but with adequate training and reassurance from the ‘responsible person’, you can rest assured that you are in safe hands should a fire occur. 

    Enhance the Protection of Your Staff With Fire & Safety Centre

    Putting prevention measures in place is of utmost importance when tackling fire safety. Protect your workplace with fire safety essentials such as fire extinguishers, fire blankets and fire alarms today to ensure you are equipped for any emergency. You can also find training courses to prepare employees for any situation and help them maintain their fire safety knowledge. Show your staff you care by preparing for the event of a fire with the help of Fire and Safety Centre.  

    Workplace Fire Safety FAQs

    What is fire safety in a workplace?

    There are many rules and regulations regarding fire safety in a workplace that employers must adhere to. Some responsibilities include carrying out risk assessments, removing risks of fire, ensuring fire safety equipment is maintained and readily available, creating an emergency plan and reviewing risks regularly. 

    Who is legally responsible for fire safety?

    Fire safety is the responsibility of the person in charge of the property. This can include: 

    • Employers
    • Owners 
    • Landlords
    • Occupiers
    • Other staff members that have control of the premises including Facilities Managers or Building Managers. 

    Who should carry out a fire risk assessment?

    The ‘responsible person’ has the duty of carrying out the fire risk assessment. This includes identifying any potential dangers and risks of fires, establishing the amount of risk they pose to staff and what procedures could be implemented to reduce the risk of harm to employees. These risks should be reviewed regularly to ensure they don’t become more harmful in the future. 

    Related Articles

    Workplace security: How to become more secure!

    Think like a scout and be prepared for spills in the workplace

    How Old Is Your Fire Extinguisher? Does It Need Servicing?