Fire protection in the workplace plays an important role in preventing personal injury and damage to property. Every year, more than 2,000 occupational accidents caused by fires or explosions are reported to the insurance companies. In addition, fires in the company also lead to high economic losses and in every second case to insolvency.
The most common causes of fire in the company are:
- Incorrect use of work equipment, facilities or supplies.
- Lack of or inadequate training of employees
- Insufficient awareness of hazards in handling hazardous substances and flammable materials
- Defective electrical systems and equipment
- Inadequate maintenance¹
Workplace safety and fire protection in the company
In addition to regulations from authorities and insurers, employers have an obligation under occupational health and safety law for fire protection in the company. According to the Occupational Health and Safety Act (ArbSchG) § 3, the employer is obliged to ensure the safety and health of employees. According to §§ 5 and 6 ArbSchG, the employer must assess the working conditions and prepare a risk assessment. In addition, the employer must determine measures for first aid, firefighting and evacuation of workers in the event of an emergency in accordance with §19 ArbSchG. To this end, he may appoint, equip and train certain persons.
At the same time, the Workplace Ordinance (Arb.StättV) supplements the regulations of the ArbSchG. The review of operational requirements as well as the identification and elimination of possible fire safety deficiencies should be carried out regularly by means of a fire safety inspection. The employer or entrepreneur is responsible for carrying out the inspection, which can also be handed over to internal or external fire protection officers. In principle, a fire inspection should take place at least once a year. Depending on the size of the company or special risks, shorter intervals are also conceivable.
For more information on how to inspect a business for fire prevention deficiencies, see our blog article Fire Prevention Inspection with Checklist.
Responsible person for fire protection in the company
In principle, the responsibility for fire protection measures lies with the company or an appointed person. However, company fire protection is also a joint task of the entire workforce. Consequently, the following persons are relevant for fire protection in the company.
Entrepreneurs and managers
According to the ArbSchG, the employer is obliged to carry out a risk assessment, take fire hazards into account and take preventive measures. This also includes providing and maintaining the necessary fire extinguishing equipment. In addition, the employer must conduct annual fire safety and evacuation instructions in accordance with ArbSchG §12.
Good to know: CWS offers fire protection training online, at the branch or at your premises. You can find more information here!
Fire Safety Officer
A fire safety officer actively advises and supports those responsible in the company on all questions of preventive, defensive and organisational fire protection. He identifies risks and recommends measures for optimal and legally secured fire protection in the company. In addition, he or she can also take over the training and further education of employees, e.g. fire protection assistants. The tasks of a fire safety officer can be performed by a trained employee or an external fire safety officer. Important: Fire safety officers must be appointed in writing by the employer in accordance with the Works Constitution Act (BetrVG)
Fire safety helper
As a rule, every company should train at least 5 % of its employees as fire protection and evacuation assistants according to §10 ArbSchG, ASR A2.2 and risk assessment. Depending on the size of the company and the risk assessment, a larger number may be required. The fire protection assistants are responsible for quickly fighting incipient fires and evacuating in the event of an emergency. To this end, they receive expert and regular training on how to behave in the event of a fire and how to use fire extinguishing equipment.
Specialists for occupational safety
Occupational safety specialists usually work closely with the fire safety officer to integrate the measures taken into the operational processes and to regularly check their implementation. They regularly inspect the workplace to identify potential fire hazards or deficiencies. They also communicate and remind the workforce to comply with fire and occupational safety measures.
Safety representatives assist the employer in preventing occupational accidents and communicating accident hazards to the workforce.
As a matter of principle, all employees must support the fire protection measures through their behaviour and follow the instructions in case of an emergency. This means that in an emergency they must report a fire, warn other people and provide assistance. In addition, they should participate in the fire protection and evacuation drills annually.
Do you still have questions about fire protection in the company?
¹Deutsche Gesetzliche Unfallversicherung e.V. (DGUV) (2020): DGUV Information 205-001 Betrieblicher Brandschutz in der Praxis, Online im Internet, URL: https://publikationen.dguv.de/widgets/pdf/download/article/324