If you run your own business, your mind will be filled with everything from profit margins and expansion ideas to ways in which you can make the office more productive, with the role of a boss being rather diverse and stressful. This is why things like fire safety often get overlooked. However, if you do fail to carry out your fire safety obligations, you could face repercussions. These can be in the form of official enforcements, fines and in some severe cases, prison time.
For this reason, we have chosen to blog about enforcements and penalties today, helping business owners that need clarity on such subjects.
How can I prevent penalties?
Your local fire and rescue authority should provide you with a full, detailed list of everything your premises needs in the way of fire safety, giving you the information you need to ensure your business is compliant. Part of their job is to check your fire risk assessment (so ensure you have yours) and make sure the fire prevention measures taken are appropriate.
So, if you are strict on completing your annual risk assessment, follow all of the recommendations from the report and reply to all notices within the suggested timeframes, you will avoid penalties.
There are different types of notices issued based on the severity of the fire risk and various other factors. Below are the most common:
An Alterations Notice will be issued if the enforcing authority considers your premise to be of high or potentially high risk in relation to a change in the business. These ‘changes’ relate to changes to the premises, the services offered from it, new fittings and equipment stored on-site, dangerous substances introduced or a change of use of the property.
Receiving this letter does not mean that a breach has been made. The Responsible Person will be required to reply to proposed solutions (if required) in order to get the property fire safe.
There are many reasons authorities decide to issue these notices. From findings gathered from enforcement audits and inspections to a response to an incident, it really is at the discretion of the leading authority.
An Enforcement Notice is slightly more serious and is issued to businesses that the authorities believe is being mismanaged in relation to combating fire risks. Stating what improvements are needed by law and by what date, these notices are very direct in their language.
The Responsible Person will be given 28 days to remedy the failure. A suitable and sufficient risk assessment will need to be carried out to ensure standards are met and the business is operating in a compliant manner.
This is the notice that all businesses want to avoid. A Prohibition Notice is issued when the authorities believe the fire risks are so great that access needs to be restricted or prohibited. These are usually in response to extreme compliance issues involving the risk of serious injury or death.
It is also worth noting that all of the above notices will be recorded on The National Enforcement Register which is open to the public.
Running a business is hard enough without being presented with penalties for fire safety breaches. However, if you do ignore responsibilities and notices, you could put yourself and your business financially out of pocket. Small penalties can be up to the value of £5000 where major penalties can be unlimited with the addition of up to 2 years in prison.
Book your fire risk assessment now
If you wish to understand your business’ fire safety needs and responsibilities then you have come to the right website. Here at Twenty4, we are working with many businesses across South Wales, helping them to get compliant and avoid notices, enforcements and penalties.