Great management isn’t restricted to the effective running of your business, a healthy bottom line, or happy staff but also ensuring that building regulations and the associated fire risks are up to scratch. Great management is also ensuring that fires taking hold in the warehouse are unlikely to occur, but if they do they are controlled and contained quickly, effectively and safely. It also vital that if a fire does grow suddenly that you are able to evacuate the premise easily, safely and quickly.
So if you aren’t already aware, and you really should be, we’ve highlighted some of the key aspects to consider in regards to general warehouse and mezzanine flooring regulations.
Warehouse Fires Across the Globe
In June 2014, the global online fast-fashion and beauty retailer ASOS lost 70% of their stock in a large fire. It was said to have been the result of an arson attack the warehouse and saw damages across all of its 6 floors. It is believed that there was more than £30 million of inventory affected by the fire bringing to light the severity of exposure to warehouse fires.
General Warehouse Regulations
Carrying out a risk assessment in the workplace can help you to identify potential hazards and give you the scope to reduce the risk by introducing physical fire precautions and the management arrangements that are necessary. Not only should you be carrying out a fire risk to ensure the safety of your premises, belongings and inventory but to ensure the safety of all staff members.
According to Gov.co.uk, the website of all government departments, and other agencies and public bodies a risk assessment should include the following:
Identifying Fire Hazards – This includes identifying sources of ignition, fuel and oxygen which may encourage potential fires. You should consider separating flammable materials from such sources and consider the storage of dangerous substance, equipment and machinery.
Identifying people are risk – Ensuring that people in and around the premises are not at risk in case of a fire. This includes fire escapes, disabled access and protection from fire for all members of staff.
Evaluate, Remove, Reduce and Protect from Risk – You should evaluate the risk of a fire occurring and the dangers this may pose to people. For example looking at the ways fire can be detected and a warning system responding to this detection, fire-fighting and escape routes, lighting, maintenance, and signs & notices.
Review – Assessment is not something that can be brushed under the table once completed. Fire assessment should always be under review and be revised where necessary. Should any building work, alterations or maintenance take place for example, relevant fire escapes and exits should be reviewed.
Mezzanine Floor Fire Regulations
Not only do you need to pay attention to the general health and safety of your warehouse in terms of fire risk, but specifically to any mezzanine flooring too. Mezzanine floors are generally immune to planning permission as long as any proposed changes are internal and each floor is less than 200m squared.
However, they will need to meeting building regulations and fire safety plays a big part in the construction and installation of mezzanine flooring. Building regulations necessitate that any elevated areas within a warehouse must possess an ambulant disable staircase which has specific requirements relating to tread, size of steps, landings and handrails.
In most cases simple storage only mezzanine floors do not require fire protection, but other uses will determine if the floor is required to be fire rated. So if it is considered a sufficient size to form an additional storey or is to be used as an office space, workroom or if people are generally working on the platform on a continuous basis, fire precautions will need to be taken.
Fire protection is a necessary and important part of building regulations and should be a priority in the planning stage when mezzanine flooring is being installed. It is also highly likely that a mezzanine is supported by columns, therefore it is also necessary that these are adequately protected against fire in order to comply. For example intumescent or fire retardant pant or PVC cladding with a one hour fire rating applied.
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