How to Avoid Breaching Fire Safety Rules at Christmas

Posted by

Matt Green

on 22 Nov 2019

How to Avoid Breaching Fire Safety Rules This Christmas

Every year businesses are urged to prioritise customer and worker safety over profit in the run-up to Christmas. We have 8 tips on how to respect fire safety rules.

Fire safety compliance breaches can be costly

It is only a couple of years since Poundstretcher was fined £1 million for health and safety breaches. The retailer pleaded guilty to a staggering 24 breaches of the 1974 ‘Health & Safety at Work Act’ across three UK stores.

Key health and safety failings included:

  • Fire exits blocked by overstocked storage areas
  • Stock stored in a dangerous fashion
  • Lack of protection and health and safety training for junior staff

They are not alone, JD Sports was fined £67,500 for fire safety breaches the year before admitting six offences at its Dudley retail outlet.

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.

Free Workplace  Accidents Training Presentation

1. Step up fire wardens/marshal checks

Regularly check emergency exits as well as escape routes and promptly report any issues to the store manager.

2. Step up good housekeeping practices

Waste packaging can cause congestion, trips and falls. Make sure it is removed promptly for disposal and not allowed to build up in busy areas or along exit routes.

3. Always keep fire doors clear

Avoid storing surplus stock or display equipment in front of them. It hampers evacuation.

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 fire.

5. Communicate emergency routes & assembly points

Pay particular attention to training temporary or seasonal staff, or anyone seconded from another store. 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 & securely fitted

Any attached to plasterboard walls could end up becoming loose, potentially detaching and causing injuries. Loose fire extinguishers should either be placed in 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 to ensure that 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.

We are happy to help!

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