As a facilities manager, the safety and security of a premises should be a prime concern. But are you aware of your responsibilities? Here, Justin Freeman, technical manager of The Master Locksmiths Association (MLA) – the leading trade association for the locksmithing industry – provides guidance on how to protect staff, the public and buildings.
When the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 came into force in 2006, it had a significant impact on facilities managers. For it dispensed with the need for a fire officer to certify and audit buildings, with responsibility for complying with the Fire Safety Order resting with ‘the responsible person’. Therefore, if, as a facilities manager, you are named as the person ‘who has control of the premises’, you must ensure compliance with the Fire Safety Order... and operate good practice in all aspects of safety and security.
When marking exit routes in both commercial and public buildings, strict rules apply. Exit routes should be marked with green signage, or ‘safe condition signs’, and use white text on a green background. Every door or exit which provides a means of escape from a premises - other than normal exits - should be marked with signs complying to British Standard 5499.
Fire doors, on the other hand, must be marked with blue signage - for example, a blue circle containing the white text ‘fire door keep shut’. And don’t confuse exit doors and fire doors – exit doors are incorporated into the walls of a building, and are designed to allow swift and safe escape from a building in the event of an emergency, while fire doors compartmentalise a building in the event of a fire and/or protect an escape route for a certain length of time. They have to be tested and all of their components have to be CE marked by law.
You should also be aware that modifications to fire doors could stop them functioning correctly, and they may have to be returned to the manufacturer if work needs to be carried out. A qualified, third party accredited security professional, such as a member of the Master Locksmiths Association, will be able to advise on this.
If you are responsible for a premises, you must also ensure that staff know where its escape routes are – and regularly evaluate them, keeping them clear of obstructions.
Different rules regarding escape routes apply to commercial and public buildings. Public buildings, for instance, must use full width crash bars where exit doors are found on escape routes, and escape routes must be illuminated by lit exit signs. Commercial buildings, however, are permitted to have push pads, which will open exit doors and green coloured stickers can be used to mark the route.
When it comes to security, it’s important to be aware of your responsibilities regarding key distribution – if you oversee the safety and security of a premises, you will need to track who has keys for the building and how many copies are made, as well as ensuring that access control systems – such as swipe cards – are working correctly. An MLA member will be able to advise on what systems will be the most suitable for your premises.
And don’t be tempted to cut corners or adopt a ‘make do and mend’ approach to security – for instance by allowing lock repairs to be carried out by a maintenance engineer. Security can be compromised and lives endangered by poorly fitted or unsuitable products, while insurance could be rendered invalid too. For example, if exit doors are locked off for convenience or extra security and people become trapped, the responsible person could be prosecuted.
You should always appoint a qualified professional to carry out security work - and they’ll also be able to undertake a survey of the premises too, should you have any concerns over safety, security and specifications.
Leaving the safety and security of your premises to chance can have serious implications for your company: make sure you’re not caught out!
For more information on the Master Locksmiths Association, please visit www.locksmiths.co.uk or call 0800 783 1498.
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