According to a telephone survey of 580 restaurateurs, publicans, takeaway owners and owners of office-based businesses:

  • 90% of all small-business owners were unaware of their responsibility to conduct a fire-risk assessment on their premises
  • 86% of business owners with small offices were unaware of this requirement
  • 39% of pub landlords were unaware

The survey was conducted by FireUK who provide fire-risk assessments across the UK.  They found that many businesses with members of the public regularly on their premises also have no named responsible person in charge of fire safety.

“We are shocked to the core by these figures,” said FireUK spokesperson Mark Hall. “We thought we would find a few companies that fell outside the law, not whole sectors of small businesses playing Russian roulette with people’s lives.  The fact that some pubs don’t know the law is terrifying,” he continued. “They are playing with fire, quite literally. There’s a huge blind spot among business owners who don’t know where their responsibilities lie.”

The survey found that a staggering ninety percent of small businesses with fewer than 10 employees were failing to conduct appropriate fire-risk assessments or follow basic fire-safety procedures.

 

Ignorance, confusion and neglect
FireUK’s survey reveals a mixture of ignorance, confusion over the regulations and willful neglect.  Some business owners admitted they were unaware that fire safety legislation applied to them, particularly those in smaller rented units who often assumed that the building owners were ultimately responsible instead.

Budgets being tight were a factor and some business owners thought that safety was a secondary consideration during these times.  Some business owners even put their trust in their staff escaping from a fire on their own initiative.

There were a varied response from business owners with some explanations as follows:

“We’re renting this space. Surely that’s not our problem?”
“I thought it only applies to big companies”
“We haven’t got the money for that kind of thing”
“We’ve only got a couple of staff, they’ll get out alright”
“I work from an office at the bottom of my garden. I’m not sure what the law is.”

 

Legal requirements
Legal requirements state that:

  • All employers, business owners, or landlords take responsibility for fire safety in the workplace
  • The so-called ‘responsible person’ must carry out fire reviews, identify risks and put safety measures in place
  • Failure to do so can result in fines or even prison sentences

To hear from our Fire Safety expert, Chris Fitzgerald, read his comments here.

For more information from the survey carried out please visit IFSEC Global.com