Friday, 12 October 2012

Fire law failings sees prosecutions rise

And in England
Forty percent of businesses are failing to conduct fire risk assessments in accordance with legislation implemented three years ago, warns Aviva Risk Management Solutions (ARMS).
Based on this unsatisfactory level of compliance with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, Fire and Rescue Services have issued businesses with 34,500 informal notifications, 3,200 enforcement notices, 442 prohibition notices and 84 alterations notices.
And fire authorities prosecuted 43 per cent more organisations last year for failing to comply with any part of the order.
Andrew Couch, health and safety consultant for ARMS, said: “Though fire service audits increased 20 per cent last year and the number of enforcement notices has fallen, satisfactory compliance rates have remained virtually unchanged in the past two years³.
“As the figures show, this is not going unnoticed by the authorities and is leading to enforcement action. And an increased level of audit activity focusing more on higher risk premises such as care homes, hotels and hospitals will bring more and more firms under the spotlight.”
Successful prosecutions can lead to significant fines. Last November, the high street fashion chain, New Look was fined £400,000 for fire safety breaches at a London branch*.
To help small businesses comply with legislation, ARMS has launched a service in which its risk assessors will conduct fire assessments on a firm’s behalf, producing formal documentation, identifying fire risks and providing evidence that the requirements of the RRO have been fulfilled.
If shortfalls are identified, risk assessors will advise businesses on how fire risks can be improved. This will include details of relevant preferred supplier solutions at competitive prices.
Couch continues: “Often businesses tell us that they either don’t have the time, don’t know where to begin when it comes to fire safety, or they need additional support and advice from someone who knows what they are talking about.
“But failing in the basic responsibilities of completing fire risk assessments means that firms are not only breaking the law but also not managing the hazards on their premises.
“The use of risk assessors to conduct health and safety consultations is a cost effective way to bring in the necessary expertise to ensure fire safety. It can be a useful business strategy until businesses are in a position to appoint their own suitably qualified employee to conduct fire assessments.”
The risk assessment will include a fire safety policy, which identifies fire risks such as combustible or flammable materials and incorporates procedures for evacuation, as well as making recommendations to improve fire risks.

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