With all the daily demands of running a business, it’s understandable that certain things may fall by the wayside during busy periods. All too often, the time to check all the relevant procedures and systems are in place comes and goes, but over time, this kind of negligence could leave your building and your employees vulnerable to danger. If you own a business in the UK, you will be legally required to organise annual fire servicing inspections on each premises under the Regulatory Reform Order 2005. Regular inspections will also be required for your insurance, so it’s important to familiarise yourself with your policy details to ensure you are compliant.
Aside from the obvious legal repercussions of neglecting to service your equipment, you also don’t want to find out in the middle of an emergency that it is not working properly. There is a reason these kinds of inspections are required by law: the procedures keep both you and your employees safe. So what is actually involved in this servicing, and why can’t you simply do it yourself? The routine inspection requires a professional to inspect every extinguisher on site and identify those in need of discharge replacement testing, replacement of missing parts or recharging. Annual inspections need to be performed by a professional to check if any parts or seals are deteriorating, whether valves are sticking or any part of the extinguisher has become damaged by the building’s fixtures or fittings. A professional warden is required by law to carry out this procedure, due to the fact that they are specially trained will know what to look out for. However, there are things you can do to keep on top of your workplace safety in between annual visits, and you should always call in an expert if you suspect a problem. As well as these annual inspections, you are also required by law to carry out weekly visual checks on the extinguishers in your building to make sure there is nothing obvious amiss. This usually involves simply checking that no seals have been tampered with or broken. If you are unsure about anything, you should consult a health and safety officer. While you are checking your extinguishers for any obvious damage, it is also a good idea to check that they are BAFE approved and up to date with the latest requirements. Look for the ‘kite mark’ symbol and a CE mark for clarification that they abide by current British standards. If you need a new extinguisher, you will need to call a fire safety specialist operating in your area. Bear in mind that even brand new ones need to be commissioned as stipulated by British Standards, and cannot simply be installed without the relevant checks having been carried out.
Make sure the company is approved by The British Fire Services Association and the Institute of Fire Prevention Officers. You also need to make sure they are supplying equipment that complies with the requirements of British Standards to ensure you’re meeting your health and safety obligations. If you are unsure about any of the fire protection procedures in your workplace, don’t bury your head in the sand and wait until it’s too late – get in touch with a safety officer today and don’t be afraid to ask questions as they are there to help keep you and your colleagues safe. It may also be advisable to ask for a chart that details what each extinguisher should be used for and how to operate it. Most safety officers will provide you with this and other appropriate signage free of charge. It’s a good idea to hang this chart where your employees can see it so they know what to do in an emergency.