I have heard that I now need to carry out risk assessments in relation to any fire risks at my premises. Is this correct?
New regulations came into force on December 1, 1999 called The Fire Precaution (Workplace) (Amendment) Regulations 1999. These mean that every employer has a duty to ensure the safety of their employees in the event of a fire.
One of the consequences of this duty is that a risk assessment must be carried out. This must be recorded if you have five or more employees.
The risk assessment would cover areas which both your customers and/or your employees have access to, whereas before fire safety was mostly concerned with areas that the customers have access to.
As well as carrying out a risk assessment you would have to take adequate steps to ensure that your employees are as safe as possible in the event of a fire. If you do not carry out these steps then the fire authority does have the power to issue an enforcement notice against you which will detail the works to take place and a specified period to carry them out in.
Alternatively, a prohibition notice can be served which will immediately close down any building or part of a building which is considered to be unsafe. If any offences are committed under these new regulations then this could lead to a fine and/or two years' imprisonment.