If you are an office manager, facilities manager, a responsible individual or hold a health and safety role, you are probably thinking about how teams that have been working from home can be safely welcomed back to the workplace.
To help you we have outlined the following tips and advice. This article is not intended to be a definitive guide, but we hope it will help provide a checklist and a focus for the structure of your plan when considering your fire and security systems and processes.
Fire Alarm Systems
In preparation for the full return to work, we recommend that a fire risk assessment is carried out.
Whilst you should have continued to ensure that systems are maintained and serviced, the risk assessment will help to highlight any additional areas of risk that may have changed over the last year. Also ensure that the assessment extends to your external areas and other companies adjacent to your buildings to ensure their fire safety measures are also up to date. You will be surprised how quickly fire can spread.
Once you have completed the fire risk assessment and ensured that systems are operating effectively, your next area of focus should be to ensure staff are reminded of fire safety and evacuation procedures.
This might involve checking your internal information boards to ensure notices are still visible and up to date. You might also consider re-issuing all staff with your latest fire safety policy and ensuring they sign a document to acknowledge they have read it. This should be followed by testing fire drills and sounding fire alarms as this will test their reaction to your evacuation procedures and provide staff with an opportunity to re-familiarise themselves with exit routes and assembly points.
These actions should then be documented in your fire log as it will demonstrate you have adopted a proactive approach to managing fire risk after what might have been for some, a lengthy absence from the workplace.
Intruder Alarm Systems
Your intruder alarms should have continued to be maintained and serviced so these should be in good working order. However, it might be prudent to remind staff which exit doors be should used in ’emergency only’ situations and provide keyholders with a refresher training session on how to set and unset the alarm system to avoid any false alarm activations.
If your building does not currently have an access control system that logs who is present, now might be the time to introduce a system as this will quickly produce a list of building occupants to use as your register during a fire evacuation.
This register could be an invaluable aid to quickly identify who is in the building, particularly if more flexible working options are introduced meaning it may be harder to log who is working where. An access control system will also ensure only authorised persons can enter your buildings.
You may also consider a staggered return to work so that you can check that key fobs, key cards and entry codes are working properly, avoid queues of staff at entry points and allow time to sort problems with access devices that may have stopped working.
In a post Covid world, you might also want to consider how and where people enter your building to avoid large gatherings. This might also mean installing thermal CCTV systems to identify individuals with raised body temperature.
Your CCTV system should have continued to be maintained and serviced so all camera’s should be in good working order. Similarly, if your building does not currently have a CCTV surveillance system, now might be the time to consider installing a system as this will also help you monitor activities within your building to ensure people are working safely. It is a legal requirement to display notices that CCTV recording equipment is present, so it might also be beneficial to remind staff and ensure all notices are clearly visible.
We have also produced the Tecserv Back to Work Guide which is based on a document issued by The Fire Service. It is intended to refresh your mind about fire safety regulations and provides some top tips for key areas to assess in order that business owners are reminded of their responsibilities in respect of fire safety in the workplace and are able to ensure their people, property and processes remain protected.
The guide provides some useful top tips on everything from conducting a fire risk assessment, keeping fire exits and escape routes clear, to your responsibilities for regular testing of fire alarm systems and ensuring maintenance inspections up to date.
Colin joined Tecserv UK Ltd in 2010. He has been in the fire and security industry for 30 years + and in that time has held a number of senior positions. His experience helps to bring focus and growth to our sales and marketing strategy by being objective driven and KPI measured.