Employers could soon be at risk of unlimited fines and/ or imprisonment if they do not take responsibility for fire safety in the workplace advises North West law firm Brabners Chaffe Street.
The news comes with the announcement that the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (“the FSO”) will come into force in October 2006 and will completely transform the way employers and others must approach fire safety.
Solicitor Simon Colvin of the environment and regulatory team at Brabners Chaffe Street warns employers to think about the extensive financial implications the FSO may have on their businesses.
He said: “Employers will have to be pro-active with fire safety. It will be their duty to assess any risks and reduce them or face legal action. Many businesses fail on basic tasks, such as training staff on fire procedures and the provisions of fire detection and fire fighting equipment. To avoid possible legal action businesses need to examine their fire safety procedures now.”
For some businesses however the financial strain is already evident: “One company I dealt with hadn’t previously considered fire safety. They had to spend £50,000 to make the basic improvements required by law.”
Previously fire certificates were issued as proof of safety, but those responsible will now have to undertake and record their own risk assessments. Other duties will be to provide equipment for fire detection and fire fighting.
Designed to replace over 100 separate pieces of fire safety legislation, the FSO will apply to the employer, person in control or the owner of the premises. It can include non-domestic premises used or operated by employers, the self-employed and voluntary sectors.
Once implemented the Fire and Rescue Authority and HSE will inspect premises and have the power to remove any equipment causing an immediate threat. It is understood they will be actively enforcing the FSO from the date of implementation so businesses need to act now to ensure they are in compliance with the order to avoid any possible legal action. Remember failure to comply with the FSO will be a criminal offence and can be punished by way of an unlimited fine and/or imprisonment.
For further information please contact Vicki Baxter or Joanne Fletcher-Wall at Bell Pottinger North on 01625 617611:
Facts about Brabners Chaffe Street
Brabners Chaffe Street is a Limited Liability Partnership and has 46 partners and 146 fee-earners based at offices in Liverpool, Manchester and Preston, with a combined annual turnover of £17.5 million.
The firm provides services across the following disciplines:
· corporate and commercial
· commercial litigation
It has recently strengthened its teams in specialist areas including construction, property and employment.
Brabners Chaffe Street also provides a range of private client services to high net worth individuals.