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Step 5 - Training

Training employees

The type of training should be based on the particular features of your workplace and:

  • should explain your emergency procedures;
  • take account of the work activity, the duties and responsibilities of employees;
  • take account of the findings of the risk assessment; and
  • be easily understandable by your employees.

You should ensure that all employees (and contractors) are told about the evacuation arrangements and are shown the means of escape as soon as possible after attending your premises. Training should be repeated as necessary (usually once or twice a year) so that your employees remain familiar with the fire precautions in your workplace and are reminded about what to do in an emergency - including those who work in the premises outside normal hours, such as cleaners or shift-workers. It is very important that you tell your employees about any changes to the emergency procedures before they are implemented.

Training should preferably include practical exercises, e.g. fire drills, to check people's understanding of the emergency plan and make them familiar with its operation. In small workplaces, this might consist of making sure that employees are aware of details of the Fire Action Notice.

Your training should include the following:

  • the action to take on discovering a fire;
  • how to raise the alarm and what happens then;
  • the action to take upon hearing the fire alarm;
  • the procedures for alerting members of the public and visitors including, where appropriate, directing them to exits;
  • the arrangements for calling the fire brigade;
  • the evacuation procedures for everyone in your workplace to reach an assembly point at a safe place;
  • the location and, when appropriate, the use of fire-fighting equipment;
  • the location of the escape routes, especially those not in regular use;
  • how to open all escape doors, including the use of any emergency fastenings;
  • the importance of keeping fire doors closed to prevent the spread of fire, heat and smoke;
  • where appropriate, how to stop machines and processes and isolate power supplies in the event of fire;
  • the reason for not using lifts (except those specifically installed or adapted for evacuation of disabled people, see 'Use of lifts as means of escape' on page 70; and
  • the importance of general fire safety and good housekeeping.

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In addition to the training in general fire precautions, employees should be informed of the risks from flammable materials used or stored on the premises. They should also be trained in the precautions in place to control the risks, particularly their role in reducing and controlling sources of ignition and fuel for the fire. Those working in high-risk areas should receive specific training in safe operating procedures and emergency responses.

Where appropriate, training should cover:

  • standards and work practices for safe operation of plant and equipment and safe handling of flammable materials (especially flammable liquids);
  • housekeeping in process areas;
  • reporting of faults and incidents, including leaks and spills of flammable liquids;
  • emergency procedures for plant or processes in the event of fire, spills or leaks; and
  • relevant legal requirements.

Further guidance on training is contained in the Approved Code of Practice to the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1992 (see the References section). All the employees identified in your emergency plan who have a supervisory role in the event of fire (e.g. heads of department, fire marshals or wardens and, in some large workplaces, fire-fighting teams), should be given details of your fire risk assessment and receive additional training. This might include some or all of the measures listed at the beginning of this section.

STEP 5 - REVIEW AND REVISE

Sooner or later you may introduce changes in your workplace which have an effect on your fire risks and precautions, e.g. changes to the work processes, furniture, plant, machinery, substances, buildings, or the number of people likely to be present in the workplace. Any of these could lead to new hazards or increased risk. So if there is any significant change, you will need to review your assessment in the light of the new hazard or risk.

Do not amend your assessment for every trivial change or for each new job, but if a change or job introduces significant new hazards you will want to consider them and do whatever you need to keep the risks under control. In any case, you should keep your assessment under review to make sure that the precautions are still working effectively. If a fire or 'near miss' occurs, then your existing assessment may be out of date or inadequate and you should reassess. It is a good idea to identify the cause of any incident and then review your fire risk assessment in the light of this.

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