§ Sir John Wheeler
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what action he is taking to implement the fire safety requirements of European Council Directives 89/391/EEC and 89/654/EEC relating to the health and safety of workers at work; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Peter Lloyd
My right hon. and learned Friend intends to implement these requirements by making regulations under section 12 of the Fire Precautions Act 1971 and has today embarked on a public consultation exercise which will end on 18 July 1992. Copies of the consultative document have been placed in the Library of both Houses.
The regulations will apply to most places of work with one or more employees. In this way the regulations will fulfil the Home Secretary's responsibility to ensure, by legislative means, that people at work, are as safe as possible from the risk of fire.
The onus for ensuring that workplaces have adequate standards of fire safety is placed firmly on the employer or the occupier of the premises. From 1 January 1993, he or she will have to make an assessment of the risk of fire to persons in the workplace and prepare an emergency plan. The plan will include details of the means of fighting fire on the premises, the action to be taken by the employees in case of fire, the evacuation procedure to be followed and the arrangements for calling the fire brigade.
There will be a staged application of some of the regulations in accordance with the workplace directive—89/654/EEC. The regulations concerned relate to the requirements to provide adequate means of escape in case of fire and fire detection and alarm systems. They will apply:
- (a) to premises used for the first time as a place of work after 31 December 1992, from 1 January 1993;
- (b) to places of work existing on 31 December 1992, by 1 January 1996; and
- (c) to those parts of such premises at (b) which are modified, extended or converted by works which are commenced after 31 December 1992, from the date on which the works are completed.