30 January 2017 - 14:51
I was thinking about how my business has transformed in the last few years. It was 2011 when I moved from Bristol up to Stamford. Bristol is a great city but Stamford has brought a great life. I work with some cracking clients and I have some really close associates. In 2011 things were much more chaotic and I remember reading about an explosion at an illegal vodka distillery on an industrial estate in Boston, Lincolnshire.
The incident killed five people and seriously injured one other. The investigation showed that a person had been smoking near the hazardous chemicals.
The tragedy not only affected the families of those injured and killed, but also those of the businesses working in the vicinity of the explosion. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to know every activity that is being performed around your own, but this incident does show that turning a blind eye can have huge consequences.
The incident happened when most of the estate was empty, but what if this had not been the case. Do you know how your neighbour’s activities could affect you? Are you prepared for an incident?
I remember doing a fire risk assessment on an asphalt plant near Preston a few years ago and when I asked who works around the site we found there was a timber yard, a paint factory and a coal-fired power station within a few hundred metres. Now there is a cocktail… But, more importantly, if one of those caught fire what does their alarm sound like? Where is their muster point? If the paint factory’s muster point is half a mile away, you don’t really want to be standing at yours……
Wherever you work, it is good to talk with your neighbours and be comfortable about how their activities could affect you.
On small estates it may be beneficial to establish a muster point away from the units, preferably near the site entrance, along with a simple emergency procedure for the people who work and visit the units.
On larger estates it will be down to each of the organizations to develop their own evacuation plans.
It is believed that 80% of companies who have been affected by serious fires in their own and neighbouring workplaces go out of business.
Review your fire risk assessment immediately
If you haven’t looked at your fire risk assessment for a while, I strongly suggest that you review it as soon as possible.
- Fire risk assessments – get it done or get it reviewed. Consider your workplace hazards and those around you
- Electrical equipment – must be inspected periodically
- Fire drill – carry one out every year. Wait until it is raining….much more fun!
- Information – make sure your employees are aware of what to do in an emergency
- Fire alarm – Make sure it works. Make sure it is serviced
- Fire extinguishers – make sure they are easily accessible and have been inspected
- Escape routes – check to make sure you can get out in the event of a fire
- Signage – Does it clearly explain the fire hazard to the emergency services at the entrance
- DSEAR – Consider your duties and responsibilities under the Dangerous Substance and Explosive Atmosphere Regulations.
Fortunately, these huge incidents are extremely rare, but fire in the workplace is very common. Whatever your situation, don’t be passive, plan ahead, stay in control and keep your business and your employees safe.
Email [email protected] for your free fire risk assessment template, and if you need to chat through things please call 07799 656303.