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How Fireco can help with your Coronavirus Risk Assessment

How Fireco can help with your Coronavirus Risk Assessment

Coronavirus lockdown restrictions are gradually lifting and a phased plan is in place to reopen businesses. This means that all businesses must prepare return strategies in order to make their building safe for staff, customers and visitors.

The Government’s Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has devised a COVID-19 Risk Assessment designed for employers to use in order to ensure their workplace COVID-19 secure. The guidance aims to help businesses identify and manage the risks associated with reopening during the pandemic.

Employers should already have a standard Risk Assessment in place in order to keep their employees and others safe, as this is part of the Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. This existing Risk Assessment can be adapted in order to suit the current risks associated with Coronavirus. The basic steps to creating a Risk Assessment include:

  • Identify hazards: What could cause injury or illness?
  • Measuring the level of risk: How likely is it that the risk will lead to injury or illness?
  • Take action: Reduce risks or, if possible, eliminate them.

If you need help to identify potential areas of risk in your business, HSE has put together a COVID-19 Risk Assessment template which can be printed and filled out. 

Fireco products can help you reduce the risks and contribute towards keeping your building germ free.

Here are some of the hazards that the HSE include in their assessment that Fireco can help with.

“Poor workplace ventilation leading to risks of coronavirus spreading”

Our hold-open devices will allow you to legally and safely hold your doors open throughout the building, improving airflow

“Getting or spreading coronavirus in common use high traffic areas such as canteens, corridors, restrooms, toilet facilities, entry/exit points to facilities, lifts, changing rooms and other communal areas.”

We have a range of products which can help with germ control for pinch points and shared surfaces. Our hold-open devices will allow you to keep your doors open, reducing the need to touch door handles, limiting the risk of cross-contamination. Our Smart Sanitising System, Germgard, can be installed by entry and exit points, which will promote the use of hand sanitiser before passing through.

“Mental health and wellbeing affected through isolation or anxiety about coronavirus”

Being isolated from lockdown and social distancing can heighten feelings of anxiety about going back to ‘normal’. Walking into a building after a few weeks or months and seeing nothing has changed will be very daunting for employees. Our hold-open devices can create a more open atmosphere and allow people to pass through without having to touch door handles. Germgard is a clear and visual way to show people that you have safety measures in place.

“Getting or spreading coronavirus by not washing hands or not washing them adequately”

Germgard is designed to promote good hygiene practices to building users through the use of hand sanitiser. It can also be integrated with access control and other systems to further reinforce sanitisation by only allowing entry once the sanitiser has been used.

Fireco’s product range can help unite both your COVID-19 and Fire Risk Assessments. If you would like to know how we can help your business with germ control and fire safety, contact us today on 01273 320650.

Social media giant turns to Fireco to assist with their return to work strategy

Social media giant turns to Fireco to assist with their return to work strategy

Fireco has been working closely with a high-profile social media platform client based in Soho, London, to provide an innovative and practical solution to guard against the transmission of germs in the working environment. The client wanted to find a solution that would work immediately, but which would also continue to be of use after COVID-19.

“When investing in technology to help combat COVID-19 as part of a return to work strategy, it’s important to retain that investment, to make sure that the technology will provide business continuity in other areas, in this case, fire safety.”

Fireco manufactures fire safety products which will be critical in any business’s fire risk assessment.  Fireco products are designed to stop people wedging open fire doors, which prevents them from closing in the event of smoke and fire.

Fireco has deployed a fully integrated solution based on our Pro ecosystem, using Dorgard Pro units. These are fire door retainers which hold open fire doors legally, allowing the door to automatically close when the fire alarm sounds. The Dorgard Pros connect to a ProHub gateway through wireless mesh network connectivity.

The ProHub can be directly connected to any fire alarm panel, meaning the solution is suitable for Category A fire doors. This system is managed through cloud-based software and provides users with interoperability through integration between multiple systems using Fireco’s open-source SDK.

Our social media client was not alone in looking for a solution which answered both fire safety and germ control requirements. Across all sectors, our customer base appears to have quickly learnt that one of the biggest risks of infection transmission in the office was through door handles.

Holding fire doors open compliantly reduces the need to touch door handles, which helps to control the spread of infection through commonly touched hard surfaces. Having doors open will also keep your building well ventilated, which can make germs less likely to spread.

If you need assistance with your back to work strategy and long term building solutions, call us today 01273 320650

Have you thought about your return to work strategy post-COVID-19?

Have you thought about your return to work strategy post-COVID-19?

As we edge towards the end of the Covid-19 lockdown phase, businesses are starting to look at their return to work strategies, and making their sites as safe as possible.

Many questions have been raised as to what the “new normal” will look like, but health and safety compliance will be just as important as ever. This means not only looking at ways to keep buildings fire safe, but also how to manage the spread of germs on shared surfaces. This will come from sensible staff management, social distancing and giving staff the correct equipment to manage their own safety effectively.

Fireco manufactures a range of self-install devices which allow doors to be held open compliantly. What does this mean for your staff? By holding the door open, you reduce the number of times people need to touch the door handle when going in or out of the room.

All our hold open solutions are fire-rated and can be used on all nominal and certified fire doors in a building. Brian Hughes from Venator, a leading global chemical company, has recently purchased 19 units. He said:

“I contacted Fireco today to enquire about the use of Dorgard for our doors. We are planning a return to work strategies and Dorgard is a safe way to keep our fire doors open and help stop the potential spread of germs”.

Fireco can help with your back to work strategies, call us today 01273 320650

COVID-19: What Will Be The Long Term Effects On Society?

COVID-19: What Will Be The Long Term Effects On Society?

Through this pandemic, many technologies have leapt into our day-to-day lives of lockdown and working from home, becoming an absolute necessity, as opposed to an alternative reserved for the young and tech-savvy.

Whether it’s conference call platforms, social media, multimedia mediums or internet shopping, we are now relying on these technologies for everything. They are keeping businesses moving, they’re putting food on our tables and they are helping us keep in touch with our loved ones. Technology has become our friend and, in some cases, our saviour.

The Door Handle Contamination Dilemma

There is a lot we don’t yet know about COVID-19. What we do know is that like common respiratory viruses, including flu, COVID-19 is spread in tiny droplets released from the nose and mouth of an infected person when they cough or sneeze.

The greatest risk comes from contamination from touched surfaces where the infection can be passed from one to another.

A shared surface such as a door handle quickly becomes a hazard and government advice has included regular disinfection of regularly touched objects and surfaces to reduce the risk of passing on the infection.

Fire Door Technology is Combatting COVID-19

Fireco, a technology company based in Brighton, England, has been working for over twenty years to help with the issue of fire doors being wedged open. Fire doors should be kept shut to control the spread of smoke and fire in buildings, and a common, serious problem is people wedging these doors open to allow for fresh air and easy access.

Fire doors should be kept shut to control the spread of smoke and fire in buildings, and a common, serious problem is people wedging these doors open to allow for fresh air and easy access

Fireco’s door retainers and door closers hold fire doors open compliantly. When the fire alarm sounds, the products will release the door to close through either acoustic or radio activation. They are wire-free and can be easily installed.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Fireco’s customer base reached out and told us that we are helping to resolve more issues than just illegally wedged open doors.

Fireco products are fitted to doors across multiple industries including NHS premises, COVID-19 test labs, critical infrastructure, schools, commercial offices and factories.

These buildings’ occupants are so pleased, because people are able to walk freely around them without having to touch door handles, which has helped reduce the spread of germs, providing protection to all occupants, many of whom are key workers on the front line in the fight against COVID-19.

We are happy that, in this way, Fireco is helping to stop the spread of COVID-19.

What Will The New Normal Look Like?

It is natural to focus on the immediate when the crisis is all consuming and impacting our lives so dramatically, but we should not forget that in the not too distant future, the restrictions imposed due to COVID-19 will be eased, and we move from survival mode into recovery mode, we need to consider what the new normal will look like.

One major challenge we will face is economic recovery. Businesses will be looking for employees to return to work and play their role in the recovery process as soon as it is practical. But this raises questions around what needs to be done to make employees comfortable in coming back to work.

What will they expect? What will an employer’s duty of care look like in the new world?

Working From Home

Managers have had a chance to witness their staff work from home, self-manage, and deliver. By working at home, everyone arrives to work on time. Car use and fuel costs are reduced and parking is no longer a problem.

Meetings work online. You don’t always have to be face-to-face; deals can be negotiated over the phone. Trust and relationships can be built remotely, as opposed to physically shaking someone’s hand.

Business and their workforces have had to adapt, but after adaption, have we now entered into acceptance? Is there an opportunity to embrace these forced changes as the new modus operandi because, quite simply, they are efficient, effective and reliable? Surely, this is just evolution with the added bonus of continuing to give the environment a break.

Health and Safety A Primary Pandemic Concern

Even with some businesses choosing to shift towards working remotely and using technology in place of face-to-face interactions, business premises will still be as important as they are today.

However, what is important in the workplace is likely to change. We will be more interested in the quality of the hand sanitizer than the coffee.

We will all want to be assured that businesses are taking their duty of care seriously, and that our place of work is a safe place to be. The return to work should be a positive experience, not a cause for concern.

What is important in the workplace is likely to change. We will be more interested in the quality of the hand sanitizer than the coffee

Worries over health and safety risks are likely to distract from the job in hand in helping to recover the business and make the whole process of returning to work a lot less enjoyable for all.

Day-to-day life has and will continue to be impacted by social distancing. The very thought of returning to work and mixing with large crowds raises questions around trust. Will other people keep up with best practices around hygiene? This cannot be taken for granted, and I for one will be very cautious in the coming months.

Getting Back To Work

It is highly likely that businesses will need to make both physical and operational changes if they want ‘getting back to work’ to be a success, and technology has a key role to play in this.

Recognising the importance of easing everyone back into their workplace gently and carefully is important. Never has so much attention been paid to what you touch.

From the minute you walk into a building, you start touching things. By the time you get to your workspace you are likely to have opened several doors and touched several door handles. By removing the need to touch these door handles by fitting a Fireco door retainer, you are proactively managing the risk level, and it is clear for all to see.

Removing the need to touch door handles is not enough on its own. When used with other measures such as enhanced hygiene practices, the provision of hand sanitizers, and the introduction of new and more flexible approaches to working life, you can clearly demonstrate that you are taking the health and safety of your employees seriously.

There are unanswered questions as we travel through this journey together, but what is clear is that our behaviours and focus have shifted, and as with most changes it is the approach that determines the outcome.

We were not given the opportunity to plan our approach to this crisis. However, we have just about got time to plan our approach to our recovery and how we manage ‘getting back to work’.

The Search For Normality And Stability

Humanity has been tested, and you don’t have to look far to see that we have responded positively with acts of kindness, respect and a common purpose.

Even countries previously at war with one another have come together. British manufacturers have re-modelled overnight to provide our health organisations with vital medical equipment for free, to help all our loved ones survive and recover.

Humanity has been tested, and you don’t have to look far to see that we have responded positively with acts of kindness, respect and a common purpose

Most importantly, through this entire crisis, we have looked after one another emotionally, developing relationships that will last forever. This crisis is not something we will ever forget, nor wish to shut the door on.

It is an indelible part of our common experience and something we should continue to learn from as we move forward in the search for normality and stability.

Fresh air is good for your brain

Fresh air is good for your brain

Summer is finally here, and the sun is shining (sometimes). As the weather improves, people in workplaces often suffer with uncomfortable working conditions — either stuffy and hot or freezing cold from temperamental air conditioning. It can be difficult to know what to wear from one day to the next!

A lack of fresh air circulating through buildings can really cause problems in the summer months. Many studies have shown the importance of ventilation and fresh air in the workplace. Study after study has shown that the amount of fresh air brought inside is important for health.

Good ventilation has been shown to reduce sick building syndrome and people taking days off for illness. Sick building syndrome, caused by poorly designed and ventilated buildings, includes symptoms such as eye irritation, headaches, coughing and chest tightness.

A recent Harvard University study found that breathing better air lead to significantly better decision-making among participants. The authors of the study strongly recommended that employers take action to optimise air quality to improve employees’ health and productivity.

A healthier environment

There are many other factors that contribute to an unhealthy work environment, such as sitting at a desk for long periods of time, bad posture, unhealthy snacking and a lack of movement during the day. When considering all health and safety matters in the workplace, it is important to ensure that air quality for employees is as good as it can be.

Better air helps workers think better, and improves productivity and health. Closed doors throughout an office can reduce the amount of fresh air that flows around a building, leading to poor ventilation.

Fire doors need to be closed to protect workers and buildings in the event of fire, so it’s important to find ways that hold them open legally, allowing them to close automatically when an alarm sounds. Fireco can help with solutions that do just that.

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How do fire doors affect the lives of care home residents?

How do fire doors affect the lives of care home residents?

Older people are often more vulnerable when it comes to accidents and emergencies which places huge importance on fire safety in care homes. Fire doors are essential for fire safety, but in the daily lives of care home residents, they can be problematic.

Fresh air is good for your brain

Fresh air is good for your brain

Good ventilation and fresh air in a building improves productivity and helps people think more clearly. It also improves the health and wellbeing of employees.

How to prepare an emergency evacuation plan

How to prepare an emergency evacuation plan

All businesses need an emergency plan. It must clearly explain the procedure to follow if a fire breaks out.

The following should be communicated to staff:

1. What to do if they discover a fire
Raise the alarm and contact the emergency services. If the fire is small enough it may be able to be extinguished (see firefighting equipment) but safety always comes first. If in doubt, evacuate.

2. What to do if they hear the fire alarm
Leave as quickly as possible by the designated emergency route. Fire marshals have additional duties and responsibilities if the alarm rings, this is covered later in this blog.

3. Escape routes, refuges and exits, especially those not in regular use
These need to be clearly signed. Evacuation routes must be clear of boxes, tables, or storage of anything, even temporarily. Drills need to be undertaken once a year (minimum) so people are familiar with the evacuation route.

4. How to raise the alarm
Where are the fire alarm call points? How are they used?

5. Who calls the fire and rescue service
This needs to be done as soon as possible. This is usually a responsibility of the fire marshal(s).

6. Provisions for people with disabilities
If a member of staff requires additional assistance, ensure they have a Personal Emergency and Evacuation Plan which clearly explains how they will evacuate.

7. Evacuation procedures, guide to exits, make sure you’re clear of the building.
Keep evacuation routes clear. Fire exit routes should be clearly signed and there should be an emergency evacuation map clearly displayed.

How often is fire safety training needed?

The law says that fire drills need to be done, as a minimum, once a year. However all employees must do a drill at least once a year, so you may need to do more than one if people are not in on drill day or if new employees are hired.

Once a year is the bare minimum. It’s best to do regular fire drills to test and fine tune the evacuation process.

Fire drills need to be recorded in the fire risk assessment. If any particular risks or hazards are identified, these also need to be noted and steps taken to remove these.

All employees need fire safety training on their first day.

When it comes to firefighting equipment, staff need to know where the equipment is stored and how to use it. In larger premises, only specific staff (fire wardens) need to be trained.

Types of fire extinguishers

Water

This is marked with a red stripe. Can be used on any fire involving wood, fabrics, paper, plastics and coal (class A fires). Water must never be used on electrical fires

Foam

Cream stripe. Also for class A fires, but can also be used on fires caused by flammable liquids such as spirits and petrol (class B fires).

Carbon dioxide

Black stripe. Can be used on electrical fires and flammable liquids (class B).

Dry powder

Blue stripe. This can be used on all types of fire EXCEPT those involving cooking oils, e.g. a deep fat fryer fire. This is the only type of extinguisher that can be used for flammable gas and flammable metal fires (class C and class D).

Wet chemical

Yellow stripe. Can be used on class A fires and those involving cooking fats and oils (class F).

Fire blankets

For use on small fires, usually those involving fat, oil or grease in cooking areas.

Fire wardens

Fire wardens are not only needed when the alarm rings, they’re also needed to check the building regularly to ensure it is as fire safe as possible. However it is handy if all employees know what risks to look out for to minimise the possibility of fire.

They also need to carry out fire drills and fire safety training for new employees and test smoke alarms weekly.

What happens if there’s a fire?

Fire wardens need to organise the following:

  • Raising the alarm
  • Contacting the emergency services
  • Closing doors (some fire doors can be closed automatically with certain hold open devices that release to the sound of the fire alarm)
  • Pointing people to emergency exits
  • Helping those that need extra assistance, such as disabled people or pregnant women
  • Checking everyone has left the premises
  • Tackling small fires with fire extinguishers, though only if this does not put them at any risk
  • Roll call when everyone has assembled in a safe area.

How many fire wardens are needed?

In a normal risk premises the following applies:

Fewer than 20 employees: At least one fire warden
20-75 employees: At least two fire wardens
For every additional 75: One additional fire warden

It’s important to remember that all shifts must be adequately covered, so you may have to nominate additional fire wardens to ensure there are enough for each shift.

For higher risk premises, such as care homes, more fire wardens are required. Specific details are available in our care home fire safety blog.

A well planned emergency evacuation procedure is essential, but only works if everyone in your building has been trained in fire safety. Education is key. Make sure everyone receives regular training and understands the importance of fire safety.

Evacuation plans need to be visible, fire exit signs need to be clear and people must know who to speak to if they spot something they think could be dangerous. If everyone knows what is unsafe and needs to be dealt with, the risk of fire is reduced.

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Back to school safely with Fireco

Schools will be welcoming back all staff and students for the new term in September. Is your school COVID-secure? Fireco can help with your Coronavirus risk assessment.

How Fireco can help with your Coronavirus Risk Assessment

How Fireco can help with your Coronavirus Risk Assessment

Coronavirus lockdown restrictions are gradually lifting and a phased plan is in place to reopen businesses. This means that all businesses must prepare return strategies in order to make their building safe for staff, customers and visitors.

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