Post-Brexit changes have affected all aspects of society, industries, and businesses across the UK. Fire safety regulations are one of the major areas of concern.
The UK’s newfound legislative independence has opened many questions. Have any fire safety rules changed? Do any of the current fire safety standards need to be amended since EU standards do not apply any more? Will any laws change in the near future?
In this post, we will tackle these questions and try to provide answers to help your business keep up and adapt to changes.
Post-Brexit Workplace Safety Rules
In most cases, a major source of questions will be workplace safety rules.
What Has Changed?
In truth, there have been very few changes regarding workplace safety regulations, their implementation and enforcement in the UK.
The European Union (Withdrawal) Act of 2018 incorporated into the UK law, many of the fire safety rules previously derived from EU directives. This has provided continuity for businesses and communities as much as possible. The UK government can now directly enforce these rules, as well as adapt and remove them unilaterally.
Amendments to the Supply of New Work Equipment
One of the more notable changes concerns the amendments to the manufacture and supply of new work equipment. They have altered the procedure of certifying the safety and quality of equipment used in the workplace.
UK-Specific UKCA Standard
Equipment manufactured for the workplace after Brexit will be tested and marked according to the new UK-specific UKCA standard, rather than European CE marking. In practice, this will not have a significant impact unless some future regulatory changes cause the UKCA and CE standards to diverge.
What Might Change in the Future?
Most of UK legislation on fire prevention and general workplace health and safety, is still closely aligned with EU standards. This maintains an international consensus on best practice and facilitates economic cooperation. However, Brexit has given the UK government the authority to amend and create its own standards and regulations. In time, this might lead to more significant changes to fire safety regulations.
Some of the possible updates might result in the following changes for both residential and commercial buildings in England:
- Any person engaged by the responsible person (RP) for a fire risk assessment will need to undertake any part of the assessment to demonstrate competence.
- The identification of RPs will be recorded, and RPs will also record their completed fire risk assessments
- Failure to comply with fire safety regulations will result in higher penalties.
- Building control bodies and fire and rescue authorities will have more efficient consultation on planning for building work, as well as for arranging the handover of fire safety information.
Businesses should keep up with any updates of the government’s approach to fire safety regulations, and make sure they are ready to implement any changes if and when they are needed.
What Remains the Same?
Regardless of any post-Brexit regulatory changes, the UK will always be committed to maintaining high standards when it comes to fire safety. Therefore, businesses need to be aware that they cannot allow these standards to slip and will be expected to fulfil the following responsibilities:
- Create a plan to eliminate, minimise or manage fire safety risks within your workplace and carry out regular assessments to identify potential fire hazards.
- Properly equip your workplace with fire detection systems and equipment, and maintain them regularly to keep them in proper working order.
- Make sure your fire exits and escape routes are clearly marked, well-lit and unobstructed at all times.
- Invest in fire extinguishers, fire blankets and other equipment necessary to contain any fires that break out.
- Ensure that all your staff are adequately trained on procedures they should follow in case of fire, including fire drills. Create a company culture where fire risks are managed and dealt with proactively.
The core fire safety principles must always remain the same, no matter how political circumstances may change. You need to make sure that your business is properly equipped for the future and ready for any changes and advances in the post-Brexit era.
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