In the run up to Christmas it’s likely that the last thing on your mind is paperwork, but at this time of the year it is absolutely essential that your business has relevant and updated fire risk assessments in place. Obviously you should endeavour to have an up to date fire risk assessment throughout the year, but the festive season in particular brings a range of new challenges which must be accounted for. Here are some of the things you should consider when reviewing your company’s fire risk assessments this Christmas.
When you decorate any workspace with tinsel, paper chains, and Christmas trees, you are essentially making your premises several times more flammable in one fell swoop. Now we’re no scrooges, and every workplace looks better with a little seasonal sprucing up, but it makes sense to try and source flame retardant decorations if you can. With trees this is rarely possible, as both natural and plastic Christmas trees catch fire easily, so in this instance make sure your risk assessments account for this extra level of risk.
You should also think carefully about the installation of decorations. This may sound like overkill, but making sure someone has the right ladders to put up some tinsel can make a huge difference. Never block any exits or fire escapes with your decorations, make sure all electrical wiring and fusing complies with safety standards, avoid placing decorations near or around sensors and fire-fighting equipment, and keep all decorations away from any potential source of heat.
For many businesses Christmas is a time of huge upheaval in terms of personnel, so your fire risk assessments should accurately reflect this. Do you have a large amount of temporary staff over the holiday season? Are you welcoming employees from another branch for a Christmas do? If so, your assessments need to account for the increase in people on site, in terms of both escape plans and responsibilities.
You should also make plans regarding any absences over Christmas. Many people take holidays or switch jobs around this time of year, so if any of them have health and safety responsibilities you must ensure these tasks are covered. Fire risk assessment should account for anyone working for you at any point over Christmas, not those who left six months ago.
Whether it’s an increase in stock because of a Christmas rush, or it’s a load of boxes of decorations and food for the office party, you’ll probably have a lot more stuff to store over Christmas, and your risk assessment should take this into account. Update your records to reflect the increased stock levels and the presence of any flammable materials being stored, and delegate responsibility to your employees on site to keep these extra materials away from fire exits or hazards.
Christmas is a chance for everyone to let their hair down after a year of hard work, but unfortunately it is also a time when tragic accidents can take place. By taking a careful and considered look at your fire safety risk assessments ahead of time, you can provide a safe environment for your employees to work and relax in before spending time with their families this Christmas. For more advice have a look at our 6 ways to ensure Fire Safety in the Workplace.
To everyone across Manchester, The North West and The UK – Total Fire Services wishes you a very Merry Christmas. Stay safe, and have fun.