Employees have a duty to meet as well…

In addition to the recent Fire Safety cases where employers have been sentenced and fined, we recently heard about a case which we felt was rather interesting, it is the first successful case against an employee under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

A care home manager has been fined £500 following a blaze in which an elderly woman died.

The manager admitted failing to maintain a suitable fire evacuation procedure when she appeared before Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court. She was prosecuted following a fire at a residential home in May last year, which claimed the life of an elderly resident.

A fire alarm had sounded but the manager did not ensure a proper search of the home was carried out. More than an hour later a fire was discovered, which claimed the resident’s life. An inquest into the death will be held later this month. The manager was fined £500.

During the hearing, the Judge commented: “As the manager of the care home it was the manager’s responsibility for the fire alarm and evacuation.”

Previously a fire alarm engineer was fined £5,000 in relation to the same incident at the care home. He had admitted failure to comply with fire regulations.

The prosecution of the manager was brought by Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service under fire safety laws. Speaking after the hearing, Peter O’Reilly from the fire service, said: “This case clearly highlights and enforces the message that employers have a duty to ensure the safety of the people in they are looking after.

“This type of behaviour simply isn’t acceptable and we should not forget that an elderly resident in care died that night.

“This is the first time an employee has been prosecuted under this legislation, as opposed to an employer, and I am proud of Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue for bringing this about.”

Remember, everybody has a duty to keep the workplace safe and healthy, not just employers. Safety matters.

Landlords Fire Safety | Take It Seriously | Health & Safety | LRB

There are still a large number of cases appearing at courts where landlords have failed to ensure their properties meet standards. Recently a fine of £135,000 was imposed on an Exeter landlord after his tenants were forced to flee for their lives.

A fire broke out on the ground floor of the four-storey building, subdivided into flats. The fire spread throughout the property, forcing some of the 13 tenants residing in the building to flee over the roof. Afterwards, fire investigators carried out a safety audit of the premises, their investigation found that the door giving entrance to the ground floor flat was inappropriately constructed to resist fire, and it was this door that allowed a fire in that flat to spread into the escape route.

This offence carried a fine of £75,000. Three further offences for three doors that had no self closing device which also contributed to fire spread fitted carried a fine of £20,000 each. A further £23,000 in costs was also awarded, giving a total fine of £158,000. A price many would cringe at, but had the property been up to standard, the fire may have been contained in the ground floor flat, thereby avoiding such a large risk to life, and therefore the fine.

A London based landlord was also recently prosecuted and fined £10,000 for a planning offence, as well as failing to comply with a prohibition order, with a maximum fine of £5,000 for the second offence.

The layout of a second-floor flat owned by the landlord was so poor that there was no safe means of escape in the event of a fire. This prompted the council’s environmental health officers to impose a prohibition order banning people from living at the flat. However, despite being aware of the risks, the landlord placed a family with two young children in the property, a direct contravention of the prohibition order.

In addition with the two fines above, costs were also awarded totalling £3,585, bringing the total cost to the landlord up to £18,585.

These two cases highlight how easy it is to get things so wrong, but also how costly it can be. Fire safety isn’t difficult, in many cases if there is something wrong, you will normally be told how to meet compliance. But it is always best to meet compliance before the inspector comes knocking.

If you need help ensuring your properties are fire safe, give us a call now on 01509 550023, or alternatively take a look at the services we offer on our Fire Safety page, or our Facilities Management page.

Changing the habits of a lifetime

The British Safety Council has launched a health and safety campaign aimed at businesses – phase one focuses on hand and arm protection.

It is aimed at businesses with the aim of understanding the key health and safety issues affecting their staff.

Through a series of surveys and using the Changing the habits of a lifetime microsite as a portal, the British Safety Council is engaging with members and organisations alike, conducting research and sharing resources.

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