LANCASTER UNIVERSITY. MANUAL OF SAFETY Section 29 POLICY ON FIRE RISK ASSESSMENTS

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1 LANCASTER UNIVERSITY MANUAL OF SAFETY Section 29 POLICY ON FIRE RISK ASSESSMENTS 1 Introduction 1.1 The Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations, require the University to carry out fire risk assessments of all buildings in which people are employed to work. This policy addresses the risk assessment requirements required by the Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations. 1.2 University fire risk assessments are based on guidance contained in the joint Health and Safety Executive/Home Office publication "Fire Safety An Employer's Guide". 1.3 Fire precautions in University buildings are maintained in a number of ways: The Fire Service - carry out periodic inspections of buildings under the Fire Precautions Act and, if necessary, issue notices requiring remedial action - enforce the requirements of the legislation on fire safety Estates - maintain the structural aspects of the fire precautions in buildings - liaise with the Building Control section of Lancaster City Council on new building work and modifications to existing buildings - arrange the periodic maintenance of fire detection and alarm systems Security - arrange for any defects in the fire precautions to be reported to Estates for remedial action. This includes defective fire fighting equipment such as extinguishers Heads of Departments The Safety Office - ensure that staff do not permit activities that would compromise the fire precautions in the department. Appendix 1 is a fire safety checklist that is used to assist in this liaises with the Fire Service over inspections of University buildings - liaises with Estates and the Fire Service on fire safety matters related to structural alterations to buildings and new building work, particularly where means of escape is involved - arranges the periodic maintenance of fire fighting equipment and plant Manual of Safety Section 29 Page 1 Revised: May 2010

2 - carries out fire risk assessments of buildings and liaises with Estates where remedial work has been identified. 2 STEPS INVOLVED IN THE FIRE RISK ASSESSMENT 2.1 For fire risk assessments, there are five steps that the assessor must go through: Step 1: Identification of potential fire hazards in the workplace. Step 2: Deciding who might be in danger, e.g. employees, students, visitors, in the event of a fire in the workplace or whilst trying to escape from it. Step 3: Evaluation of risks arising from the hazards and deciding whether the existing fire precautions are adequate or whether more should be done to eliminate (or minimise) the hazard or control the risks (e.g. by improving the fire precautions). Step 4: Recording the findings and details of the action taken as a result. Communicating this to the occupants of the building. Step 5: Keeping the assessment under review and revising it when necessary. 2.2 Step 1: Fire hazards A hazard is something that has the potential to cause harm. The assessor must identify any fire hazards commonly found in workplaces. Some of the commonly found hazards will be Flammable liquids stored Combustible materials allowed to accummulate Portable or radiant heaters in use Tasks which introduce ignitions sources into the workplace Smoking Plastic or rubber materials, especially in the form of foam, used or stored in the workplace 'Hot' work, such as welding, grinding, brazing, etc. 2.3 Step 2: People at Risk Risk is the likelihood of a hazard actually causing harm. If there is a fire, the main priority is to ensure that all persons reach a place of safety quickly. Putting the fire out is secondary to this because the greatest danger from fire in a workplace is the spread of the fire, heat and smoke through it. If a workplace does not have adequate means of detecting and warning, or adequate means of escape, a fire can trap persons or they may be overcome by heat and smoke before they can leave the workplace. The assessor needs to identify who may be at risk if there is a fire, how they will be warned and how they will escape. The assessor must identify where people are working, whether at permanent work stations or occasional ones, and consider who else might be at risk, such as visitors, contractors, service engineers, etc., and where these people are likely to be found. Manual of Safety Section 29 Page 2 Revised: May 2010

3 2.4 Step 3: Evaluation of Risks Steps 1 and 2 will have identified what the hazards are and who may be at risk because of them. The assessor now needs to evaluate the risk and decide whether enough has been done to reduce it or whether more needs to be done by considering: the chance of a fire occurring and whether the sources of ignition can be reduced or the potential fuel for a fire minimised the fire precautions that are already in place and whether they are sufficient for the remaining risks and will ensure everyone is warned in case of fire the means people can use to make their escape safely (or put the fire out if it is safe for them to do so) 2.5 Step 4: Recording the Findings and Actions The assessor must record the significant findings of the assessment together with the details of any persons identified as being at particular risk. Appendix 3 shows a form that can be used for the purpose. The fire risk assessments are kept in the Safety Office. Similarly, records of maintenance of fire fighting equipment, sub-station carbon dioxide flooding systems and dry risers are kept in the Safety Office. Maintenance records for fire detection and alarm systems are kept by Estates. All these records are readily available for inspection. 2.6 Step 5: Reviewing and Revising From time to time, changes in the workplace will be introduced which have an effect on fire risks and precautions, e.g. changes to the work processes, furniture, plant, machinery, substances, buildings, or the number of persons likely to be present in the workplace. Any of these could lead to new hazards or increased risk. If there is any significant change, the assessment will need to be reviewed in the light of the new hazard or risk. Structural alterations to buildings, or new building work, will normally be notified to the Safety Office by Estates, allowing a review to be carried out. However, the responsibility for notifying other alterations such as those described above, remains with the Head of Department, usually via the Area Safety Officer. Unless significant changes occur in a building, a review of the fire risk assessment will be carried out after a maximum of 5 years. This section of the Manual of Safety was approved by the Health & Safety Committee at its meeting on 23 May The policy was revised at the meetings on 28 May 2002, 29 January 2007 and 18 May 2010 Manual of Safety Section 29 Page 3 Revised: May 2010

4 Appendix 1 FIRE PRECAUTIONS ACT THE FIRE PRECAUTIONS (WORKPLACE) REGULATIONS FIRE RISK ASSESSMENTS FIRE SAFETY CHECKLIST FOR BUILDING OCCUPANTS The following Checklist has been designed to be used by non-specialists to check the fire safety of their buildings. The questions have been worded such that a Yes answer is the ideal outcome. General precautions which are applicable to all areas of all buildings. Check Item Yes No N/A Comments Guidance Notes 1 Are all fire escape routes clear of potential fire hazards and obstructions? Items which pose a potential fire hazard and those which could cause an obstruction must not be located in corridors or staircases used as a means of escape. Flammable or combustible materials, eg. paper packaging, foam filled furniture, provide the fuel for a fire which could jeopardise an otherwise protected route out of the building. Notice boards must be taken into account (see Appendix 4). Storage of materials in corridors, staircases, etc. seriously impedes rapid evacuation from buildings, particularly for disabled people. Temporarily stored items, including items in transit, e.g. furniture and waste bins, must not be located in corridors or staircases which serve as the sole means of escape from a building or part of a building. Manual of Safety Section 29 Page 4 Revised: May 2010

5 2 Are all final exit doors from the building capable of being easily and immediately opened without use of a key from the inside whenever the building is occupied? 3 Have tripping hazards along fire escape routes been eliminated? 4 Do all fire doors close on their own securely into the door frame? 5 Where a vision panel is fitted in the door can you see clearly through the full area of the panel? 6 Have you taken steps to identify wheelchair users (and others with restricted mobility) and persons with a learning or sight impairment who may need assistance during a fire emergency? Some buildings still have final exit doors that can only be opened in an emergency by retrieving a key from a glass fronted box adjacent to the door. Such 'key boxes' will be phased out in due course. Note particularly worn or 'curling' carpets, loose or missing nosings on stairs. Fire doors can be recognised by a small notice on each side with the wording "Fire Door Keep Shut" or similar. Pay particular attention to fire doors to staircases as these are used as refuges for wheelchair users during a fire Vision panels are fitted to give early visual warning of a fire on the other side of the door. There is a tendency to obscure them with posters, leaflets, curtains, etc. You will need to speak to each person individually and explain what he/she needs to do when the fire alarm sounds. Persons with impaired vision should be "walked" along the escape routes including, particularly, the routes which are not in general use. See Appendix 2 of Manual of Safety Section 29 for further guidance on the use of lifts. Manual of Safety Section 29 Page 5 Revised: May 2010

6 7 Are fire extinguishers/hose reels in position and ready for use? 8 Are fire evacuation notices in position with up to date information 9 Are smoking prohibitions enforced where appropriate? 10 If smoking is permitted, are persons encouraged to dispose of smoking materials in a safe manner and are suitable receptacles provided in communal areas where smoking is permitted? 11 Are flammable/combustible materials kept away from radiators and other heating appliances? The correct location of fire fighting equipment can be checked if necessary with the Safety Office. All such equipment is serviced biannually and a servicing sticker on the appliance should show a date within the previous 6-month period. Fire blankets do not have stickers. All fire extinguishers should be mounted on brackets. Notices are generally positioned at final exit doors adjacent to break-glass alarm points. In larger buildings there may be a notice at each staircase landing. In residential buildings, there are additional notices in each study/bedroom. The University policy on Smoking at Work is contained in the Manual of Safety, Section 7. Discarded smoking materials are often the cause of fires A slow build-up of heat has been known to cause fires. Plastic chairs have been known to catch fire in this way. Manual of Safety Section 29 Page 6 Revised: May 2010

7 12 Does random sampling of test labels indicate that portable electrical appliances are within the correct interval for safety testing? 13 Have steps been taken to identify persons who may work alone in the building? Faulty or poorly-maintained electrical appliances have been known to cause fires. The frequency of safety electrical testing can be found in the Manual of Safety, Section 6. Testing is organised by Estates In the evenings and at weekends, many doors which provide an exit from buildings during normal working hours, are locked for security reasons. Lone workers must be made aware of any changes to the opening mechanisms on the doors on the escape routes outside normal working hours. All means of escape required during normal hours must be available whenever a person works in the building outside normal hours. See Manual of Safety, Section 23. Additional precautions that are applicable to laboratories, workshops, service areas, etc. Check Item Yes No N/A Comments Guidance Notes 14 Is the amount of flammable liquid stored in the work place kept to a minimum? 15 Are flammable liquids being stored correctly? Up to 50 litres of flammable liquid in total can be stored in each workroom. Quantities greater than this should be kept in a properly designated storage area. When not in use flammable liquids must be kept in closed, properly labelled containers in a fire-resisting bin or cupboard designed to contain leaks. Manual of Safety Section 29 Page 7 Revised: May 2010

8 16 Are spillage kits, or other appropriate means of containing and clearing up spillages of flammable liquids, readily available? 17 If freezers/refrigerators are in use, are the thermostats spark-proofed or located outside the appliance? 18 Are flammable liquids kept well away from "hot" activities such as welding, brazing, flame cutting, use of blow lamps and grinding machines? 19 Are spare compressed gas/ LPG cylinders kept in properly designated storage areas? 20 Are such cylinders positioned away from exits? 21 Where equipment, or parts of equipment, are likely to produce static sparks, is adequate earthing provided? Sparking thermostats inside appliances have been known to cause explosions when flammable vapour has ignited. Vapour from flammable liquids can travel long distances across floors or surfaces and be ignited. Compressed gas/lpg cylinders can overheat and explode in fires. Only during changeover periods are additional cylinders permitted in workplaces. If the contents of cylinders ignite, the means of escape may be jeopardised, particularly if the workplace has only one exit. Static sparks have been known to ignite flammable liquid vapours. Manual of Safety Section 29 Page 8 Revised: May 2010

9 Appendix 2 Action to be taken by persons who are dependent on the use of a lift if the lift is not available. Action to be taken if the fire alarm sounds It is dangerous to use a lift when there is a fire because the lift may stop between floors if the power supply is disrupted. People who are dependent on the use of a lift should proceed to the nearest staircase when they hear the fire alarm sounding and wait on the landing until University Security arrive. If they are in wheel chairs they should ensure that the position that they occupy causes the minimum obstruction to others evacuating the building. It is preferable that someone remains with the disabled person until University Security arrive. It is essential that the person waiting asks someone to contact Security and ask them to deliver immediately the Evac-chair (a specially designed wheelchair to transport disabled persons down stairs) to the building in question. The Evac-chair will then be deployed should there be an indication of a genuine fire. The majority of staircases in the University are constructed in such a way that the doors onto the staircase and the enclosing walls present an effective barrier against fire and smoke for at least 30 minutes. In the event that it becomes essential to transport a disabled person down stairs with the Evac-chair, this will only be done by trained personnel if it is absolutely necessary and only after the exit routes become clear. In recognising which doors are fire doors the following indications will be of help. 1 There will often be a small notice Fire Door Keep Shut affixed to the door 2 There will often be a self-closing mechanism on the door 3 Any glazing in the door will be fire resisting, such as Georgian-wired with the embedded wire clearly visible. Alternatively if the glazing is clear, small etched wording in the corner will indicate that the glazing is fire resistant. If the staircase does not appear to be a protected staircase, the next staircase along on the same level will almost certainly be a protected staircase. It should be noted that even an ordinary door can be an effective barrier against smoke if it is closed. Action to be taken if the lift is not available due to mechanical failure There may be occasions when the lift is not available because of mechanical failure and there is a person in a building above the ground floor who wishes to move between floors or leave the building and who is normally dependent on the lift. On these occasions, Security should be contacted and requested to deploy the Evacchair. If you have any queries about either of these two procedures please do not hesitate to contact the University Safety Office on extension Manual of Safety Section 29 Page 9 Revised: May 2010

10 THE WORKPLACE (FIRE PRECAUTIONS) REGULATIONS FIRE RISK ASSESSMENT Appendix 3 BUILDING: TYPE OF CONSTRUCTION: PERSONS AT RISK : FIRE HAZARDS Sources of ignition and combustible/flammable materials Means of escape RISK CONTROL STRATEGY Compartmentation Manual of Safety Section 29 Page 10 Revised: May 2010

11 Fire detection and alarm systems Fire fighting equipment RISK CONTROL STRATEGY Emergency lighting Fire safety signs Manual of Safety Section 29 Page 11 Revised: May 2010

12 Housekeeping Training ACTION TO BE TAKEN/OTHER COMMENTS RISK ASSESSMENT CONCLUSION (including a risk "rating" where appropriate) NAME OF ASSESSOR SIGNATURE OF ASSESSOR DATE OF ASSESSMENT ASSESSMENT REVIEW DATE Manual of Safety Section 29 Page 12 Revised: May 2010

13 Appendix 4 Guidance on Notice Boards in corridors (based on a report from the Fire Service College on the visit dated 13 December 2006) General It is a general principle of fire safety that escape corridors should not contain significant quantities of fuel. Positioning In corridors that are less than 1.5 metres wide, notice boards should be provided only on one side of the corridor. Where notice boards are required on both sides of a corridor that is between 1.5 metres and 2.5 metres wide, the boards on one side should be covered to avoid continuity of fuel supply. Where the corridor is over 2.5 metres wide this need not apply. Individual notice boards should not be longer than 2.5 metres and where several are required a space of 1 metre should be left between them in order to avoid any continuity in the fuel supply. Notice boards should be attached permanently to the wall. Materials of construction Proper pin-board materials designed for the purpose should be used, not basic combustible fibreboard or hessian-covered materials. Where the latter are in use, they should be replaced. Where covers are needed they should be constructed of polycarbonate or safety glazing. Management of notice boards Notice boards must be managed by the department that uses them. The content of the boards should be reviewed at regular intervals. Papers should be removed when out of date and the overlaying of secondary papers should not be permitted The trailing down of papers from the bottom of the boards should not be permitted. Notices should be pinned up properly. Generally, furniture should not be positioned in corridors but especially not immediately below notice boards in order to avoid continuity of fuel. Fly-posting of papers on walls away from the notice boards should not be permitted. Manual of Safety Section 29 Page 13 Revised: May 2010

14 Appendix 5 Guidance on the location of cupboards in corridors or on means of escape 1 the cupboard must be constructed of metal or other non combustible material 2 the cupboard must be kept locked 3 the cupboard must not cause an obstruction or bottle-neck (severe narrowing of the corridor) and in all cases a clear unobstructed width of corridor of at least 1050mm must be maintained 4 all items must be stored in the cupboard not on top or adjacent to the cupboard 5 cupboards may be located in any corridor, even when there is escape in only one direction, but they must not be located in any protected stairway Guidance on the location of recycling bins or waste bins in corridors or on means of escape 1 the bin must be constructed of materials of restricted combustibility including metal or other non-combustible materials. [This applies to all new and replacement bins. The existing plastic bins will be phased out as they become unserviceable. Bins constructed of cardboard are not permitted] 2 the bin must not cause an obstruction or bottle-neck (severe narrowing of the corridor) and in all cases a clear unobstructed width of corridor of at least 1050mm must be maintained 3 bins may be located in any corridor where there is escape in at least two directions, but they must not be located in any protected stairway or in any corridor where there is escape in only one direction 4 all waste and recycling bins must be emptied when full Manual of Safety Section 29 Page 14 Revised: May 2010

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