Fire is a constant risk in all types of workplaces throughout the UK. To ensure that staff and the public stay safe, every business should have a range of fire safety precautions in place. One of the simplest and most effective ways to enhance the fire safety measures in your workplace is to put up a fire safety poster.
A fire safety poster can provide people with crucial, lifesaving information during an emergency.
Additionally, a fire safety poster can help you to meet your legal obligations regarding health and safety legislation. But exactly what information should a fire safety poster contain? Who is responsible for fire safety in the workplace? and what fire safety rules are applicable under UK law?
This article will provide you with a short guide on the law surrounding fire safety signage, the benefits of having a fire safety poster and what details it should include.
What are the Fire Safety Rules for Responsible Persons?
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 outlines the fire safety rules applicable to all UK workplaces. Introduced and enforced by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order 2005 requires that every workplace nominate a ‘responsible person’ who is legally obligated to ensure that all mandated fire safety precautions are implemented in the workplace.
The responsible person is defined as someone who ‘has control of premises or anyone who has a degree of control over certain areas or systems’. This may be a business owner, a landlord, a manager, a supervisor or a staff member. Some businesses may have more than one responsible person.
The Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996 is the relevant legislation concerning fire safety signage in the UK. These regulations stipulate that every place of business must have a minimum of two fire safety signs. These are:
- Fire Extinguisher Signage – which show the location of fire extinguishers and provide information on the various types of extinguishers available
- A Fire Safety Plan Notice – which provides information on what to do in the event of a fire
While it does not replace the need for these signs, a fire safety poster incorporates this information and provides other crucial details on fire prevention and emergency fire procedures.
Why Your Workplace Should Have a Fire Safety Poster
In the event of a fire, action may need to be taken quickly to prevent damage to property, injuries or fatalities. The simple act of placing a poster with relevant information in a prominent area can ensure that people know what to do in an emergency situation. Keep in mind, fires can cause people to panic and act in an irrational or dangerous manner.
If a fire does occur, having easy-to-read, clear instructions on what to do can help people to remain calm and take actions that reduce or eliminate the risk of injury or death.
What Information Should a Fire Safety Poster Contain?
There are many commercially available fire safety posters that you can purchase. If bought from a reputable supplier, these posters can contain useful information on fire prevention and emergency procedures. However, it may be that a workplace has specific requirements and instructions. In this case, creating a bespoke fire safety poster may be the best option.
As well as providing information on what steps to take in an emergency, a fire safety poster can also detail what precautions to take.
In general, a fire safety poster will include the following sections:
- Precautionary measures
- Control measures to minimise fire risk
- Maintenance information for fire safety equipment
- What to do in the event of a fire
- Firefighting equipment information
- Contact details for emergency services
Precise details contained within these sections may differ. But let’s take a general look at what each area should include.
Precautionary Measures to Reduce the Risk of Fire
This includes steps that can be taken to eliminate or reduce the risk of fire in the workplace, such as:
- Risk assessments
- Fire-resistant storage for combustible materials
- Removal of all ignition risks
- Reducing quantities of flammable liquids in the workplace
- Increased fire detection and fire alarms in high-risk areas
Control Measures to Minimise Fire Risk
This includes measures that can be taken to minimise the risk of fire, such as:
- Ensuring all fire exits and evacuation routes are clearly marked
- Ensuring all fire exits and evacuation routes are clear of obstructions
- Installing emergency lighting and smoke detection devices
- Providing staff with fire safety training
- Preparing a fire safety plan
Maintenance Information for Fire Safety Equipment
This includes a list of maintenance duties for fire safety equipment. For example, reminders to check equipment such as fire extinguishers, fire doors, fire alarms and smoke detection units on a weekly basis. And reminders that fire safety signage is checked monthly and that evacuation drills are performed quarterly.
What to Do in the Event of a Fire
Information on what staff should do if a fire is discovered, such as:
- Sounding a fire alarm immediately
- Only trying to fight the fire if it is safe to do so
- Evacuation procedures
This section may also include reminders on what not to do, for instance, do not exit via lifts or stop to collect personal belongings.
Firefighting Equipment Information
This section should detail where to find the fire extinguishers and how to identify the different types of fire extinguishers.
There are five fire extinguisher types, each designated by a different colour:
- Water extinguishers – Red. For fires involving organic materials such as wood, cardboard, paper, plastics, fabric or coal.
- Foam extinguishers – Cream. For fires involving organic materials or for fires that involve flammable liquids.
- Dry powder extinguishers – Blue. For any fires involving combustible metals.
- Carbon dioxide (co2) extinguishers – Black. For fires involving flammable liquids. Also used for electrical fires.
- Wet chemical extinguishers – Yellow. For fires involving cooking oils or fats.
Contact Details for Emergency Services
Provide staff with simple, clear instructions on how to call emergency services. This should include details on the correct emergency services number (999 in the UK, 112 in Europe) and reminders to confirm the telephone number, state the nature of the emergency and provide the exact location.
Other Ways to Improve Fire Safety at Work
Putting up a fire safety poster is a great way to remind staff of their duties and responsibilities and provide them with the critical information they can use during an emergency. However, all staff should be provided with adequate fire safety training.
Human Focus offers fire safety courses that can be taken online and are fully accredited and approved. As well the range of fire safety training, Human Focus also has free downloadable infographics that can be used to enhance the safety of your workplace.