Business safety advice from Oxfordshire firefighters as lock-down eases

Businesses are receiving important guidance from Oxfordshire County Council Fire and Rescue Service, helping them reopen safely following the COVID-19 lockdown.

Local companies have had to adapt to new ways of working over the past three-months, many now face great challenges going forward.

However, fire officers are on hand to help them return to work safely as COVID-19 restrictions are eased.

Gabby Heycock, Head of Protection for Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, said:

“We are here to support businesses the best we can during these challenging times.

“Our fire safety inspection team is working hard in providing guidance to ensure that companies and customers across the Thames Valley are safe to reopen. They are on hand to answer any questions.”

New ways of working may mean business needs have changed, and so it is important fire risk assessments are reviewed to ensure they continue to reflect the new situation.

Factors that could impact on a fire risk assessment include:

  • Changes to work processes and their implementation, such as new equipment.
  • Temporary changes to how the premises are used, for example, introduction of sleeping on site.
  • Alterations to the building, including the internal layout.
  • Substantial changes to furniture and fixings.
  • Increase or change to the amount of stock kept on premises.
  • An increase or decrease in the numbers of staff or customers.

Businesses are encouraged to check they are still able to safely evacuate everybody; and ensure the fire assembly point is still workable with social distancing in mind.

Other considerations include:

  • The amount of rubbish being generated, and ensuring it is properly disposed of to reduce the risk of arson.
  • Ensuring means of escape are adequate for the number of people in the building and their needs; and kept clear of obstructions.
  • Making sure new members of staff are properly trained, including any additional training needs that arise from the latest fire risk assessment.
  • Checking the fire warning system and emergency lighting work correctly, and whether they have been tested whilst the building has been closed.
  • Employees should be reminded not to prop open fire doors. Minimising contact with door handles may be at the forefront of people’s minds, but they must not use wedges or extinguishers to hold open fire doors.

Businesses can contact Oxfordshire County Council Fire and Rescue Service by:

Email: fire.service@oxfordshire.gov.uk

Phone: 01865 895999.

Further advice is also available from Oxfordshire County Council’s website here.

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