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  • International Workplace
  • 15 August 2017
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Fire safety procedures are full of gaps, study reveals

Almost one in five adults works for a company where not a single fire drill has been carried out in the last 12 months, despite this being a requirement for workplace health and safety regulations, a new study by law firm Hugh James has revealed.

The poll of 2,000 full- and part-time employees working in the UK revealed that almost half haven’t received workplace training on what to do in the event of a fire, or any health and safety policies at all. The findings also revealed that many couldn’t recall when the fire doors or fire extinguishers at their workplace were last inspected.

Although the vast majority of respondents said they took workplace health and safety seriously, the research highlighted there is risk of employers taking a lacklustre approach in general when it comes to overall health and safety in the workplace.

Results showed that more than a third of employees either didn’t know where the accident log book is located at their work or that there isn’t one, whilst just over one in five of the 970 managers polled admitted to not following the health and safety protocol after every employee injury or accident.

Talking about the findings, Mark Harvey, Head of Specialist Personal Injury at Hugh James, commented:

“Not only does there appear to be some confusion around existing legislation amongst managers and employees, but there is also a lack of understanding when it comes to the consequences of misconduct in the long-run.

“With over a third of all employees admitting to not feeling competent enough to know all health and safety policies in the event of an emergency, it’s important that everyone in the workplace understands that they have a vital part to play when it comes to being responsible for one another to avoid mishaps in the future.

“We need to ensure that employers and their managers truly report what is happening in the workplace. We therefore urge companies to put real emphasis on providing the right health and safety training to employees to avoid future misconduct – whether it’s putting in place the correct procedures for regular fire drill tests or simply keeping accident log books up to date.”

The survey also revealed large differences between full- and part-time workers when it comes to health and safety training in the workplace more generally, with those in part-time employment at risk of missing out on adequate training. Nearly half of part-time employees said that they hadn’t had a health and safety induction when they joined their current company, compared with just under a third of full-time employees saying that they had not received an induction when they started their job. Part-time workers also felt less competent than their full-time counterparts in the event of an emergency, with almost half admitting they didn’t feel they would know enough should an incident occur.

Harvey added:

“With many employees working part-time patterns or more flexible hours than ever before, there’s a chance that some people might miss out on vital health and safety inductions and more general training – especially when time in a busy day is already tight. We would therefore encourage employers to be far more rigorous and factor in providing adequate training for those part-time workers who may not be in the workplace when, for example, a fire drill takes place – at least so they get a clear walkthrough of what to do should an emergency occur.”