A quarter have never experienced a full fire drill at work

New research has found that a quarter of workers have never participated in a full fire evacuation of their workplace, despite government guidelines suggesting full drills be undertaken at least once a year.

The study of over 2,000 adults by insurer RSA also found that one in 20 UK workers admitted their workplace had no marked fire exits at all. In addition, 6% of people questioned admitted they would stop to pick up a cup of tea or coffee when the fire alarm sounds before heading out of the building.

The London Fire Brigade says while each fire is unique, as a rule of thumb it should take two and a half minutes to empty a building. One in ten workers said they sit at their desks for more than a minute before getting up to leave the building upon hearing the alarm go off, regardless of whether they believe there is a real fire or not. The average time that an employee waited before reacting to an alarm was 36 seconds. 42% of people also said they would spend time retrieving personal belongings or work documents before vacating the building.

RSA is calling for businesses to step up their behaviour, encourage all employees to take fire safety seriously, and hold more regular fire drills.

David Geer, Global UK Business Director at RSA, said:

“Our research revealed a much higher level of apathy about fire safety among workers throughout the country than we had hoped. It is crucial in the case of fire safety that companies not only evacuate employees from the workplace quickly and efficiently in an emergency, but also make sure that staff are made acutely aware of fire safety procedures and the location of their nearest fire exit.

“Businesses that do not take fire safety seriously are risking their employees’ lives and their livelihoods.”