A fire in the office is up there with is every business’s worst nightmare—and in some cases, the consequences can be disastrous. Even in a world where more people are working remotely, having an effective fire safety plan is crucial to help protect the lives of your employees, visitors, and business.
The good news is, that putting together an effective fire safety plan doesn’t have to be too challenging. In this guide, we’ll identify the consequences of cutting corners when it comes to addressing this issue, and provide useful tips to help you develop a better long-term strategy.
The consequences of not having a proper fire safety plan
1. Regulatory violations
Most countries take building regulations very seriously, and fire safety laws are strict (for good reason). As a business, one of the most crucial responsibilities you have is ensuring you are adhering to the rules where you’re based. Complying with regulations usually involves performing frequent risk assessments and ensuring that your staff is well-trained in their duties and responsibilities. It's also up to you to ensure that there's a solid plan is in place if the worst does happen.
If you choose not to comply with workplace fire safety regulations and there is a fire, you can be held responsible for any deaths. It’s up to your jurisdiction to determine the penalties, which could be hefty—as is the case in the UK.
2. Putting people’s lives at risk
Some parts of the world have seen an upward trend in fire-related deaths in recent years. In the US, for example, FEMA revealed that the fire death rate increased by 3.3% between 2010 and 2019.
Failing to meet adequate fire safety standards is a prime example of poor workplace management. If an accident occurs, you needlessly risk the lives of your employees and visitors.
3. Risking your industry reputation
It goes without saying that the primary reason you should implement effective fire safety plans is to protect human lives. But there are other consequences for a business. Failure to do so will also threaten how others think of your organization in your industry.
Without an effective fire safety plan, if an emergency occurs, it will reveal your shortcomings. This can impact your reputation and brand. It can also discourage talent from wanting to join your company because you’re not taking safety seriously.
How to implement an effective fire safety plan
1. Assess your current strategy
Before you start making any changes, it's important to examine your current fire safety plan. Sit down with key stakeholders and look at what needs improving, in addition to what you’re already doing well.
First and foremost, your plan should make it clear how people can exit the building if something was to happen. Develop a map showing all the exits and routes out of the building. We’ve included an example below:
Other elements to consider include:
- Revamping employee training to include health and safety policies
- Providing refresher courses for your team members
- Assessing whether your office building needs any changes to ensure compliance
By reviewing all the components of your plan and identifying the fire safety loopholes, your business will be prepared if something goes wrong.
2. Ditch the paper and embrace technology
If your business is still using paper visitor sign in books and outdated manual sign-in processes, it’s time for a safety upgrade. Not only is this inefficient for workplace management, paper and manual sign in processes are a security and safety risk to your business. Visitor sign-in books have several other drawbacks, including the threat they pose to your guests’ personal data. If this is leaked, you could violate data laws and face significant fines.
Introduce technology such as an employee sign in and visitor management system that improves your office safety and security by enabling you to see who is on the premises in case of an emergency. An effective workplace sign in system can assist emergency responders, providing important information that can literally save lives.
3. Consider relocating your office if necessary
Even if you’ve developed an excellent fire safety plan, you might find yourself limited by the physical office space itself. If you’re in an older building, it might be challenging to implement the fire safety policies you want, even if you’re technically complying with local regulations.
Poor building maintenance can lead to serious safety and health issues, thereby getting in the way of an effective fire safety plan. Consider relocating to a new office to minimize safety risks, and possibly minimize your financial risks.
TLDR: Fire safety should be one of your business’s top priorities
Effective workspace management is about balancing efficiency and safety. Planning how you will react if a fire occurs is critical to the safety and well-being of all those on your premises. Technology can help save lives. Assess your current fire safety plan and use the above tips to help you develop a better long-term strategy.