Back to work during Covid-19
Tens of thousands of commercial and residential property owners will be making arrangements to return back to work after a period of uncertainty during the COVID-19 lockdown.
A complete rethink of the working environment is necessary to ensure that cases of COVID-19 are not spread within your workplace. Employers may need to erect barriers between workspaces in open-plan offices where employees work in a way so that there is a distance of 2m between them.
But are these fire hazards?
Do these COVID-19 measures block fire escapes or obstruct exit routes? Has your fire alarm system been tested while you’ve been away from work? Perhaps it is due a service during the lockdown?
There are so many variables that come into play when thinking about precautions and protecting
your staff and customers, most of which we have never had to think about because pandemics haven’t been too much of an issue in the past.
However now, we all have to be extra vigilant and be considerate to those around us. So, we have created this brief guide to help ensure workplaces are safe for returning employees. What to consider when re-opening your business after the lockdown.
Fire Risk Assessments
It is vital that as changes are made to control the spread of COVID-19, you consider your fire safety risk assessments to help mitigate the risk of fire. A lot of these safety measures will irrevocably change the way you run your business, therefore will change the parameters of fire safety in your building. This is all new to a lot of us, so here are some gentle reminders of what to consider:
- Risk Reduction: Take all reasonable measures to reduce the risk of fire. For example; isolating all non-essential equipment and machinery.
- Fire alarm systems: Is your fire alarm system in Leeds still in a good working order? If your fire alarm system was dormant during the lockdown, some systems may need checking.
- Interim measures: If you have had to implement some interim measures to combat the spread of COVID-19, do all your staff know and understand how these will affect the chances of a fire?
- New or emerging risk: Has risk changed since you were open before the lockdown? Do you have new products on your premises that are a fire risk? (such as the introduction of oxygen use / storage)
- Vulnerable people: Are the most vulnerable people receiving support and being assessed for their individual needs or changes in their vulnerability?
During this period we would advise you to review your fire risk assessment regularly. We provide an unparalleled level of service to all of our clients, no matter how big or small. HR Fire Safety can ensure your fire risk assessment is carried out quickly and efficiently, and are considerate of your businesses measures to stop infection.
Each and every one of your employees, visitors and residents must be familiar with your evacuation plan. However, that will have changed massively compared to before the birth of COVID-19. Social distancing must be adhered to at all times, and this will affect the process of your evacuation. Larger companies must consider multiple groups leaving through hallways at the same time. Is there enough time to get everybody out?
Assembly points have had to become significantly bigger to accommodate 8 metres squared for each person present. Does your assembly point conform to this rule?
Fire safety signage may have to change in some way. The evacuation route out of buildings could have to facilitate more people and therefore have to be altered. Communicating effectively with your staff and visitors during a fire saves lives, and during a time where we have to keep a bit of extra space around us, signage is even more important. We can assist you in formulating the best ‘social distancing friendly’ ’evacuation plan for your individual needs. Our in-depth knowledge of fire safety will ensure that your fire evacuation plan will be effective but conforms to government social distancing guidelines.
Fire alarm Maintenance in Leeds.
Is your fire alarm system in good working order?
It may have been neglected over the last few months due to the lockdown. Getting an engineer out to maintain your fire alarm in Leeds may have been a challenge lately, and even if you do manage to get seen by someone, accommodating them with respect to the government’s social distancing guidelines may have also been challenging. If you are uncertain of anything related to the maintenance of your fire alarm system, in your premises you should contact our qualified fire safety system engineer.
Now is the time to get your fire alarm system checked, by a professional and considerate company. Companies need to plan their work rota and schedule around maintenance visits. Depending on your premises, certain issues may pop up. The number of people around our engineer will have to be limited.
As the guidelines we are set are easing now, vigilance is still essential. We understand how important it is to keep your staff and customers safe and will ensure that every measure is taken to limit the chance of spreading COVID-19.
Fire doors are essential to protect your property and its users. They stop the fire from spreading, and can protect vulnerable areas of your business.
But, they can often be forgotten about. One undoubtable occurrence will be self-closing fire doors being wedged open as a COVID-19 precautionary measure, to limit the amount of contact we all have with the doors and door handles. While limiting contact is good, ignoring fire safety is not. We suggest keeping them closed but disinfect them regularly. If the fire door is used regularly, you could have hand sanitiser on either side of the door – often seen in hospitals already – or provide gloves for your staff and visitors.
We strongly discourage anyone from propping open fire doors for any reason and suggest that a responsible adult considers other measures.
HR Fire & Safety undertake work in all kinds of Fire Safety in Yorkshire; From replenishing Fire Extinguishers to full fire safety training for your staff. So please contact us to discuss your requirements.