Christmas Fire Safety in the Workplace

Posted by

Matt Green

on 01 Dec 2022

Every year businesses are urged to prioritise customer and worker safety over profit in the run-up to Christmas. We have eight fire safety tips to help.

Christmas Fire Safety in the Workplace

Fire safety compliance breaches can be costly. It was only this year that the pipeline transportation company, Exolum Pipeline System Ltd, was fined £2.3m for exposing employees to a fire hazard.

The company's failure to identify and control the risks associated with conducting a pipeline repair breached sections 2 and 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Key health & safety failings included:

  • Inadequate risk assessment
  • Failure to recognise the flammable atmosphere
  • Inadequate evacuation planning

They are not alone; last year, the construction firm, S&S Quality Building Contractors Limited, was fined £600k for "serious and repeated failings" regarding fire safety risk management on a construction site.

The government announced unlimited fines for those who breach fire safety regulations under the Fire Safety Order.

Free Workplace  Accidents Training Presentation

Workplace Fire Safety Tips at Christmas 

Staying safe has a lot to do with common sense. Following our tips will not only keep staff and customers out of danger but will also help you avoid hefty fines.

1. Increase fire wardens/marshal checks

Regularly check emergency exits as well as escape routes and promptly report any issues to the store or health and safety manager. Ensure there are regular fire drills to identify any fire safety issues that need to be addressed. Christmas is a busy time of year which requires proactive engagement in marshal checks.

2. Step up good housekeeping practices

Waste packaging can cause congestion, trips, and falls. Ensure it is removed promptly for disposal and not allowed to build up in busy areas or along exit routes. During the festive season, there can be more waste packaging than usual, so this requires particular attention.

3. Always keep fire doors clear

Avoid storing surplus stock or display equipment in front of any fire doors. These are emergency exits, and any obstruction hampers evacuation. In the event of a fire, every second counts. 

4. Check clearances in any storage rooms

Don't stock items too high, and ensure that there is adequate clearance from lights or other heat sources to minimise the fire risk. And don't store stock directly under sprinkler systems, as this may make them less effective in the event of a fire.

Christmas Compliance Risks

5. Communicate emergency routes

Pay particular attention to training temporary or seasonal staff or anyone seconded from another store. All staff working during the festive season need to be aware of the emergency routes and assembly points. They may be unfamiliar with your store layout and the rules.

6. Monitor & manage overcrowding

Of course, all businesses want to see increased footfall in stores at Christmas. But be sensible and realistic. If customers cannot move around easily, they may not be able to evacuate safely either. In extreme situations, consider closing the doors temporarily to all new visitors to keep everyone safe.

7. Ensure fire extinguishers are visible 

Any attached to plasterboard walls could become loose, potentially detaching and causing injuries. It is vital to ensure that all fire extinguishers are clearly visible and securely fitted. Loose fire extinguishers should either be placed on a floor stand or refitted with a sturdy backboard.

8. Check all Christmas lights thoroughly

Decorative lights are an additional fire hazard not usually present at other times of the year. That's why it's crucial to get a qualified person to examine the wires for frayed cables and ensure all connections are intact.

Christmas Corporate Gifts Checklist

More on Compliance at Christmas

We have companion articles on a number of Christmas compliance risks, including Fraud and Fire Safety, plus our handy Christmas Gifts Checklist.

And for some festive cheer, check out our Gamified Learning Hub. There you'll find our famous Christmas Compliance Challenge, plus a festive crossword and word search.

If you prove your compliance credentials, you may just win a prize. All comply with our anti-bribery policy, of course - you'd expected nothing less!

If you've any questions or concerns about compliance or e-learning, please get in touch.

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