New Fire Safety Law - October 2023
Fire Safety Legislation Effective October
In any workplace, the safety of employees should always be number one priority. It’s important to stay aware and up to date on the latest fire safety laws in order to ensure that your employees and your business remain protected in both the long term and the short term.
On October 1st, critical changes affecting all businesses came into effect. New regulations were implemented with a view to increase workplace safety and to further reduce the risk of fire-related accidents.
Below we'll take a look at some of the changes that came along with the Section 156 of the Building Safety Act 2022 legislation...
Key changes to legislation
The main type of legislation governing fire safety in England is the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO). This has been altered, by adding a number of important changes to it.
They are the following....
Responsibility for fire safety
At the heart of the changes introduced by the Fire Safety Act 2021, is the concept of the "responsible person(s)". The responsible person will now have a legal duty to manage the risk of fire. This involves making sure that the appropriate fire safety measures are in place and are consistently maintained. This goes for not only the building but more importantly, the safety of its occupants.
Fire risk assessments will be mandatory for your premises, meaning they must be carried out. These assessments will need to identify potential fire hazards, evaluate any potential risk to employees and others, and implement measures to prevent and reduce these risks. The process will need to be a constant, with regular reviews and updates.
EWS (External wall systems)
Also important to the new regulations are external wall systems and cladding. With the rule that any external wall system is safe and does not pose a fire risk. High-rise buildings are of particular interest, especially these with cladding systems.
It is essential that escape routes must always remain clear and unobstructed for all occupants, this can be achieved by making sure exit routes are constantly maintained properly as well as clearly marked, with all employees made familiar with the evacuation plan.
Fire detection and warning systems
Making sure that appropriate fire detection and warning systems are in place and maintained is critical to the new changes. This will include fire alarms, smoke detectors, and emergency lighting systems.
Engaging competent professionals to assist with fire safety measures is of the utmost importance. This will involve appointing a fire risk assessor who can be deemed competent, this will include seeking advice from any of the following: fire safety consultants, engineers, specialists in fire prevention.
The new legislation supports the status of what is known as “Article 50” risk-based guidance. This means that the guidance has been agreed and approved to be used by the Secretary of State. Under the new legislation, this guidance can be used in court proceedings to determine whether compliance has been achieved or whether a deviation from guidance has resulted in a breach of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. HM Government provides a suite of risk-based guidance bespoke to different types of premises and various levels of risk.
Impact on the law
The penalty for any offence that is found to have been committed from 1 October 2023 under Article 32 of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 has been increased. This means that the maximum level of fine for offences has changed from Level 3 (£1,000) to Level 5 (Unlimited) fine as determined by HM Courts.
The increase in penalty will only be effective for offences committed after 1 October 2023. Any offence committed before this time will carry the former maximum penalty of a Level 3 (£1,000) fine per offence. This change is to reflect the seriousness of fire safety offences in aligning them with all other offences; and to act as a deterrent against non-compliance.
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