In high-risk estates such as hospitals or care homes, the right door could save a life. For our feature article, originally in Croner-i Facilities Management, Dave Howell investigates how to check your doors’ safety.
In the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower disaster, fire safety rapidly moved to the top of the health & safety officer’s and facilities manager’s (FM) agenda. Properly installing and maintaining fire doors is critical to protecting the lives of anyone within a building – and is particularly vital in environments where workers and other individuals are vulnerable. The healthcare sector is clearly a focus here.
If you’re an H&S officer or an FM, specifying the correct doors across your estates is an essential component of your responsibilities. Fire doors, in particular, need special attention as they must meet all compliance regulations for fire safety.
You also need to be aware of the makeup of your workforce as this can often impact upon how doors are used. Anyone with a physical disability, for instance, may need additional help when using some types of doors. Think through how the doors across your premises may be used.
Your door checklist
So, what exactly should you be looking for when auditing your doors’ safety? An assessment of the condition of each door across an estate should include the following checks…
1. Door furniture
There are a few things to check here:
- Look at the door’s operation – is it smooth and unhindered?
- Check that the hinges are marked with the CE stamp or BS EN 1935 grade 13
- Check all hinge screws are tight and have no oil leaks, which could indicate wear
2. Locks and latches
Check the lock holds the door in place. If the door rattles when closed, this could indicate the lock or catch isn’t engaging properly. If a door closer is fitted, test that it fully closes the door and engages the lock.
3. Signage and exit devices
All doors must be fully signed to ensure users know which door they should be using in an emergency. If a panic exit device is on a door, check this works and fully closes the door, engaging the locking mechanism.
4. Fire doors
All of the above checks apply to fire doors – but in their case, it’s also vital to check the intumescent and/or smoke seals condition in detail. Check the seal is fully attached to the door.
Maintaining doorway and fire door safety
Specification of new doors and maintenance of existing doorways is critical to the health & safety of all occupants. In the event of a fire, certified doors can save lives (see Fire doors: installation and CE marking).
It is vital, though, to ensure that the doors and doorways are used correctly and support every member of staff. Education is essential to ensure doors are not propped open, for instance. And Louise Hosking, Chartered Safety and Health Practitioner and OSHCR registered consultant, says regular checks are important:
“FMs should also be undertaking a formal six-monthly check of their fire doors to confirm they are in good order. This should be a detailed check and not just a cursory inspection so anyone undertaking it must be trained.
“For a building with lots of doors, this can be a challenging survey to undertake, but is important because a fire door with damage will not give the protection expected. More focus is currently being made on the condition of fire doors and we are seeing some FMs having to significantly increase their budgets for repair or replacement following one of these surveys.”
Raising the specification of the doors and doorways across an estate is money and time well spent.