Fire safety in the workplace is something that all employers should take seriously, not just for their own wellbeing, but because it is a requirement under UAE law. Businesses are required to assess the risks of fire emergencies occurring and ensure that steps are taken to prevent them from happening.
Furthermore, the UAE Fire and Life Safety Code has a chapter on the responsibilities of property owners, contractors, consultants, engineers and community members, indicating that all parties share some responsibility for fire prevention and safety.
If you are an employer then fireproofing your workplace should be a high priority – but what exactly do you need to consider? Here is what our experts say is the need-to-know information about fire safety in the workplace…
In the modern workplace it is likely that your employees are surrounded by electrical equipment. In a single office you can expect to find computers, photocopiers, printers, telephones, and any other specialist equipment that may be used. But did you know that electrical equipment poses one of the greatest risks to fire safety?
Minimise the risks from electricity by regularly checking equipment for damage, ensuring that it is being used correctly and that any faulty equipment is removed and repaired by a trusted source straight away.
By law, all offices must have a fire detection and warning system in place. This system, and the individual devices, must be tested regularly to ensure they comply with the required standards. Make sure that you test your smoke detectors annually and carry out frequent tests of the fire alarm and warning system. The latter should be completely operational and can be heard and seen by all employees, visitors and other occupants.
Your premises must have an escape route which allows your employees to exit in the event of a fire to a predetermined safe location, outside and away from the building. This route could be the main staircase, an external fire escape or a designated corridor that is only used in the event of a fire. You should ensure that the escape route is familiar to your employees and that all exits are clearly marked with the appropriate fire safety signs.
Like your fire detection and warning systems, any escape routes should be checked regularly to ensure they aren’t obstructed so they can be used safely by your employees.
Does your workplace have a dedicated fire warden responsible for monitoring fire safety compliance? If ignored, there are numerous duties that could have serious consequences, such as maintenance of the evacuation plan, reviewing the fire risk assessment and ensuring all fire-fighting equipment is present and correct. It is therefore essential that your fire warden understands their responsibilities, takes the role seriously and has undergone official training.
After faulty electrical equipment, it is said that one of the biggest causes of fire in the workplace is human error. Misuse of equipment, smoking outside of designated areas or careless handling of flammable materials can very easily lead to a fire in the workplace.
To fully safeguard your employees and your premises, we recommend that all employees are trained in fire safety so they can identify and prevent potential hazards and know the protocol for what should be done if a fire breaks out. Even if your business has all of the boxes ticked when it comes to plans, procedures and equipment, it will not be effective if your employees do not know what to do in the event of a fire.