New Fire Safety Regulations Require Greater Vigilance from Employers

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Byline: By Richard Freeman-Wallace

Fire safety in the workplace is vitally important. The Government changed fire safety legislation by introducing the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 in October last year.

The new fire regime affects all UK businesses. The changes were designed to make regulations easier to comply with by reforming fire safety laws contained in over 100 pieces of legislation.

The regulations have been in the pipeline for a long time. They mark a move towards greater emphasis on fire prevention in all non-domestic properties, including the voluntary sector and self-employed people with premises separate from their homes.

Fire certificates have been replaced by a risk assessment approach aimed at protecting "relevant persons". These are people who are lawfully on the premises, or anyone in the immediate vicinity and at risk from a fire.

Businesses that do not comply could face an unlimited fine and up to two years' imprisonment by the Crown Court. Unlike the old system, which simply required a business to possess a fire certificate, the new regime requires a continuous risk assessment approach.

The buck stops with the responsible person, who has to prove that he or she took all reasonable precautions and exercised all due diligence to comply with the regulations. …