UK Legislation

DSE Training DVD
A DSE Training DVD or online video is just one of the latest safety training requirements to opt for the training via video option.

In pure economic terms then safety training via video makes sense for UK companies as the comparative price for hands-on training requires much more capital investment.
There is probably little dispute between experts that should money be no object then practical, live training is undoubtedly the best option. However in most UK businesses ‘money no object’ is not the usual financial position.
Giving good health and safety training via a reasonably priced medium that can be used time and time again just makes good financial sense. However it has another distinct advantage – it’s logistically easy to set up and deliver and unlike practical trainers it doesn’t matter how few or many people you are training.
Many people would agree that as long as the training comes with a test of understanding then video training is a very practical solution. The test of understanding is very important without such it is unlikely to be legally accepted as training i.e. playing a DVD to staff without testing them afterwards proves nothing as they may have completely misunderstood the material.
Many subjects are now available as video training e.g. asbestos awareness, manual handling, fire warden, fire extinguisher and now Display Screen Equipment.

Click here to see an example - DSE Training DVD

Weekly fire tests and evacuation drills for crowded places

As Fire Risk Assessors one of the most common non-compliances with fire safety legislation we find is lack of weekly testing and evacuation drills. This in the average workplace is easy to address and implement swiftly.

However in large buildings that entertain vast numbers of the public (such as hotels or shopping centres) then implementation is not so straight forward. How do you carry out weekly tests and evacuation drills without causing mass panic and economically penalising the business (e.g. if a shopping centre evacuated everybody how many would actually bother to return).

But safety of life must come first and a practicable solution must be sought. Good information and regular, expected regimes of testing would help.

But there are perhaps some tools out there that can help implement systems in public places and crowded spaces, one such example is Alert Innovation’s Shop Alert – Muster Point App which can integrate tests, drills and emergency evacuations.

It is true that regular tests and drills are more challenging in public places but are they not even more important in such an arena?

manual handling training like fire safety DVD training
Much UK fire safety legislation revolves around the requirement to train. However what exactly constitutes training is up for debate.

What is clear is that any form of training that provides no test of understanding is unlikely to be accepted as ‘Training" in the eyes of the law.

There are of course many possible delivery methods: hands on, face-to-face, reading guides, video and DVD but without an integrated test they are worthless.

It is of course a balancing act for UK employers to meet all the legislation but not impinge on the company’s profitability through overly costly training requirements.

But fire safety and health and safety in general agree that there should be a test. An example of which is this manual handling training DVD.

Fire Safety Order 2005On the 1st of October 2006 the Regulatory Reforms (Fire Safety) Order came into place and repealed a multitude of previous fire-safety legislation. Yet it is estimated that over 60% of UK businesses are not fully compliant under the act. However pointing to a neighbouring business should a fire or a near miss hit you will not help - ignorance is no plea in the British judicial system.
If you are a business owner then the buck stops with you. Not meeting all the fire-safety regulations has been likened to driving a car with no tax (the inference being you’re okay if you don’t get caught) but it’s a poor analogy as rarely does driving with no tax end up with loss of human life.

There are many more questions but can you answer these core questions in the affirmative?

Have you carried out and documented a sufficient fire-risk assessment?

Have you put in place adequate fire-protection measures?

Has your staff received appropriate fire safety training?

Are all the above updated frequently?

There are a number of reasons your business could receive a visit from a fire-officer: someone reported fire-safety concerns regarding your business, randomly picked for an inspection, a fire or a near-miss event. Times are indeed tough but avoiding faire-safety legislation can have perilous consequences.
It doesn’t have to cost the earth, start by taking advantage of our free fire safety resources.

extinguisher training coursesUK fire safety legislation requires that adequate fire safety training is provided. Therefore if you have extinguishers then those people who are allowed and expected to use the extinguishers must receive adequate training.

So what etype of extinguisher training course should you choose? Well if budget is no no object then the best form is of course hands-on practical training. However this can prove costly and difficult to put in place. On a one off basis practical training is very achievable but the law requires staff to receive training on induction which can be a challenge. Not only would training just one member of staff be costly but also difficult to organise such detailed training for such small numbers.

There are therefore various alternatives, online training, extinguisher training DVD’s and even training books and guides. Each have their merit but with any form of training what is important is that a test-of-knowledge is undertaken and an arbitrary pass mark established.

You can click to visit a site that caters for all these [ extinguisher training courses ].

fire alarm design often undervalued

When it comes to fire alarm design it is amazing how many trades, professions and professionals just don’t get it. Firstly there is the misconception that the designer will choose the category of the system – Wrong! It’s not their job. The choice of system category is ultimately that of ‘the responsible person’. They may have help and guidance from other stakeholders e.g. fire risk assessor or insurer. Occasionally they will be given a category by an enforcing authority such as the Fire Brigade or Building Control. Once the category has been chosen it is the job of the designer to ensure the specification meets the category entirely.
Being the official designer brings a lot of legal responsibility. A person remains ‘the designer’ in perpetuity (unless wholesale changes or re-design takes place) even if a different maintaining company takes over the system in the future. Therefore a designer will not cut corners. In a commercial, competitive environment ultimately they will provide a design to your specification but the category on the certificate will reflect that. Indeed if the design meets no specific category this too will be noted on the design certificate.
Many building contractors give designers a schematic with devices already in position. However they often don’t quite realise this means legally they are now the official designer. A fire-alarm designer will be completely unwilling to certificate somebody else’s poor design, and why should they? Many architects, consultants, builders and electrical contractors completely misunderstand and underestimate the design process. It involves understanding detectors, coverage patterns and spacing. They need to know how different structures, particularly ceilings, affect detector coverage and spacing. They have to understand how to incorporate loop calculations, battery calculations control-panel design software etc. etc.
Often it is at the end of a contract when the trouble starts. This when the Fire Authority, or more likely building control, will require all the correct certification before they sign the building off. Often because nobody understood or perhaps were unwilling to pay for the design element problems now ensue. A finished building, a Building Control official who won’t sign it off and a designer who won’t certificate someone else’s poor design.
The design process can take days and cost hundreds of pounds and all too often this is not factored in. However skimping on design can be very costly in the long run.

For UK businesses what legally represents ‘Fire Extinguisher Training’?

 
Fire extinguisher demonstration
 
 

 

What is clear under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 is that when you provide extinguishers for your staff then they must be trained to use them. Training must take place on induction to the company and at regular intervals thereafter.
This is one of the most frequently non-compliant areas of fire-safety legislation for the vast majority of British businesses. The problems are obvious:

1 - It is logistically difficult to organise a large group of staff to take part in practical extinguisher training.

2 - It is cost restrictive (anywhere from £30 - £120 per head).

3 - Organising practical training for one person (on induction) is even more costly and many trainers have a minimum number of trainees before they will offer their services.

The alternative of a fire-extinguisher training DVD therefore seems more practical. It is certainly more cost effective and much easier to deliver to groups and more particularly single inductees.
Obviously it does not hold the currency of physical hands-on training but compared to what most companies settle for ‘Nothing’ – it is perhaps the best alternative. Factor into this also the ability to get most fire-extinguisher servicing companies to deliver ad hoc and free training when extinguishers are due a discharge / extended service and as a whole this becomes quite a reasonable approach.
So far so good eh? – However simply playing a training DVD would be most unlikely to pass for ‘training’ in a court of law. The trainees could have chosen to watch it and take everything onboard or alternatively daydreamed the time away enjoying the paid break from work. Then there are the trainees who watched it avidly but misunderstood or just plain got it wrong. Training without ‘a test of understanding’ is just not training.
Therefore a fire-extinguisher video training course / DVD should be accompanied by supporting test materials and have a minimum pass mark to prove competency. If you don’t pass you can’t use the extinguishers.

This is an example of just such a DVD 

 

what-are-fire-risk-assessments
What are Fire Risk Assessments?

Although the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) order has been in place since October 2006 it is amazing how many UK business owners pose the question "What are fire risk assessments?"
Many people remain blissfully unaware of their legal responsibility to carry out a fire risk assessment or undertake an insufficient assessment. One of the most common failings sited in prosecutions is that of 'an insufficient fire-risk assessment'.
Many members of staff find themsleves being delegated the responsibility yet lack the knowledge or expertise to undertake an assessment to a reasonable and compliant standard.
In law it is perfectly acceptable to undertake your own assessment if you acknowledge your limitations and seek knowledge and advice to supplement this need. With this in mind I have written 'The Ultimate Fire Risk Assessment Guide.' The publication is free and will be updated annually. 
Having read the publication you will know where your business fits within the Fire Safety Order and how it specifically applies to you. There are many free guides including the government's own guides. However they contain advice such as - "Ensure you have adequate fire protection measures (alarms, extinguishers etc.)" - very helpful. How do you know what is sufficient?
This free book takes you beyond the obvious and fleshes out the general statements to help you determine exactly what measures you should put in place to ensure you meet current fire-safety legislation.

You can order your free copy at http://www.whatarefireriskassessments.co.uk/

comptent fire risk assessorThe ‘Fire Safety Order’ requires that commercial premises carry out a fire risk assessment to determine the risk to people from fire. Legislation also requires that measures are taken to keep people safe from fire whilst on those premises.

In simple premises it is quite likely and practical that the owner or duty holder carries out the assessment. In more complex buildings however it is wise to consider employing a professional consultant.

In fact, in England and Wales, Government guidance suggests that where buildings are more than four storeys high then the duty holder should seek the advice of a competent person.

As this requirement becomes more and more in demand this year saw the setting up of ‘The Fire Risk Assessment Competency Council’.
Their advice to duty holders carrying out their own assessment in simple places is as follows:

The following attributes of a fire risk assessor might be sufficient in conjunction with a study of suitable guidance documents. Even in such a simple building, the fire risk assessor will need:-

a) An understanding of relevant current best fire safety practices in buildings of the type in question;

b) An awareness of the limitations of the fire risk assessor's own experience and knowledge;

c) A willingness and ability to supplement existing experience and knowledge, when necessary, by obtaining external help and advice

In order to help in this regard we are putting on a series of workshops. The first being held in Harrogate on Tuesday July 19th, 2011.

For more details click [Free Fire Safety Training]

2 Comments

Staggered risers a boon to fire safetyI can hear every architect, surveyor, plumber, electrician, and comms provider shouting ‘What a stupid idea!” And as an ex-fire alarm engineer I can fully understand that viewpoint.
Utilities would take a deal longer to install if risers were not placed inline on every floor. Cables and pipes would have to snake across floors before reaching the next riser; both the original installation and future remedial work would be more difficult – Yes… but it could save lives.
Risers are essentially a flue-like construction – We’re building chimneys in multiple locations around high-rise buildings. Risers, should compartmenting between floors be breached, would rapidly draw smoke and flames between floors.
“Well compartmenting must be in place!”, shouts the plumber. True, but how many buildings, that are no longer new, have breached compartments in risers? In our experience it’s as high as 70 to 80%.
Retrofit work is rarely checked and often only on a fire-risk assessment is the problem discovered. Breaching of compartmentation in risers is widespread – fact! So if risers were not inline and didn’t form a flue the problem would be much less severe.
Is a longer install and more awkward retrofit a reasonable price to pay for vastly increased fire safety? Money no-object I think everyone would answer ‘Yes’. But money is an object isn’t it? So it’s highly unlikely to happen.
Tell us your thoughts – good idea or totally unworkable?