The coronavirus pandemic has forced businesses into unusual circumstances; with new regulations for our safety surfacing each day, it’s more important than ever that businesses adapt to this new way of life. As business owners begin to return to their physical premises, they must be aware of the new fire safety risks that have emerged as a result of recent COVID-19 measures.
Protect not only your staff, but members of the public with updated fire safety procedures.
Protecting the vulnerable
Employers have a duty of care to their staff and customers alike. Those with health vulnerabilities, especially those previously shielding at home, may need to isolate in a separate office while at work – working behind new screens or partitioning, distanced from the usual evacuation routes.
Keep these vulnerabilities in mind when considering changes to your usual fire safety protocols. Ensure there is a clear path to evacuation routes; one where your staff member will be able to socially distance.
Beware when altering your building
Be cautious about the risk of temporary ‘COVID-secure’ alterations to your workplace. These include wedging fire doors open to avoid touching door handles, locking previous access routes and impeding smoke detection through partitions.
Fire doors should always be kept closed – to avoid touching handles, why not invest in an automatic hold-open system instead? Always make sure screens are not in the way, and avoid one-way traffic flows within your office.
Evacuation and maintaining social distancing
When evacuating, it’s a given that all occupants must leave the premises in an orderly fashion. But, what if you need to maintain social distancing during evacuation?
Having a safe, predetermined fire assembly point is essential here. Whilst safe distance between employees may not always be possible, hygiene can always be maintained at the fire assembly point. Your evacuation strategies should account for this – make hand sanitizer accessible, and ensure your assembly point is large enough for social distancing to be maintained.
Don’t forget about remote working
Although you may be returning to your offices, some workers may elect to stay at home. Remote working during the pandemic has risen by 87% – and this number is expected to keep on growing.
It’s essential that remote workers are just as informed as their in person counterparts, especially regarding new safety procedure. Consider carrying out a ‘desktop drill’ to update your employees on any change to assembly points or regulation. Don’t forget to remind them of their own safety at home – there’s no harm in reminding your remote workers to unplug their electrics and extinguish any candles when the working day is done.
Keep an eye on your systems
Finally, keep an eye on your systems! Fire alarms must be working. Your premises should have regular fire alarm inspections – in the event of an evacuation, a working fire alarm allows you to establish if there’s really a fire or if the warning was false.
When looking for fire alarm installers in Newcastle an elsewhere across the North East, choose a company responsible for reliable and long-lasting systems. CDS Security & Fire offer the innovative alarms necessary to keep you, your clientele and your employees safe. With their expert blend of technology and application, there’s nowhere else to go for your fire safety measures.
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