Covid19 has had a massive impact on the everyday working lives of very many people, with so many companies having their employees work from home for the past several months. However, it seems that the vaccines have managed to get things under reasonable control, although we haven’t got rid of the virus entirely and it seems that it may become something like flu, and we will need an annual injection.
Nonetheless, businesses are beginning to have people coming back to work in the office, even if not every day of the week, and it seems that may be the way forward for many businesses: employees coming in for one or two days and working from home the rest of the time. It certainly reduces the amount of time spent on the “daily” commute, if in the future it becomes only a couple of times a week.
What this means for many businesses is that, going forward, they may not need as much office space as in the past, so many office buildings will become empty. What the effect on local cafes, sandwich bars, restaurants, and pubs will be is too early to tell, but sadly, it seems likely that quite a number will go out of business, if they haven’t already, simply because of the lack of trade.
However, if you are an employer and your employees are coming back into the office, albeit only for a couple of days a week, you still have to comply with all the rules and regulations, and one that is still vital is fire safety. As you put measures in place to keep employees socially distanced, this can have an effect on the layout of working spaces with things such as protective screens on desks and hand sanitiser stations coming into play. From the point of view of fire safety, it is essential to see that these changes don’t have an effect on it. For example, moving desks around and spacing them further apart might possibly block fire exits or escape routes.
Another thing that you need to do is to test your fire alarm. If you have been away from the office for months, it has probably not been tested on a regular basis as it should be, so you need to attend to that and make certain that everything is in working order. You may also be due for a fire alarm service, so you need to arrange for that as well.
Another thing that you have probably not done is to update your fire risk assessment. Just because you have not been in the office for so long, it may be that you could overlook it, but if you have been moving things about and changing working procedures you really do need to carry out a fire assessment, as you do whenever you make changes in your business which can affect fire safety. There is no need to search for something such as “fire risk assessor near me” because at UK-FireRisk Assessments we cover the whole of the UK, so we are always “near you”.
You also need to make sure that your employees understand your fire evacuation procedure, especially if you have been changing things about. You should carry out a fire drill, and you may need to do this more than once if you have employees in the office part time because they were working at home on the day you did the first one. It is essential that everyone who comes into the office is up to speed with the evacuation procedure.
While carrying out a fire risk assessment is vital, you also need to check on your fire-fighting equipment. Once again, if you have moved things about, this may have an effect on your fire extinguishers because they may now need to be moved because they are no longer as easily accessible as they need to be.
If you have not carried out a fire risk assessment for some time, give us a call at UK-FireRisk Assessments and we will come and do it for you. We also provide you with a full written report which the law requires you to keep if you have five or more employees.