Arson in the workplace

Is your business at risk from arson?
Have you unknowingly employed a pyromaniac?

factory fire in NottinghamA typical business, focussed on satisfying the needs of its customers, keeping its overheads down and having many members of staff working hard to keep the business going will undoubtedly used the phrase ‘firefighting’. However, what if you inadvertently employed an arsonist or someone for whom setting fires is their way of relieving tension or for getting instant gratification?

The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 gives jobseekers with criminal records the right to legally withhold such information after a period of time. The Act allows most convictions to be considered spent after a specified period of time. So you may have unwittingly employed a former arsonist, perhaps someone convicted of setting grass fires or even burning down a school in their youth.

Latest figures show that a third of all fire incidents attended by the fire and rescue services in England were caused deliberately. Out of these there were 303 fatalities, 7,661 casualties and potentially millions of pounds in property damage.

So what happens when your employee ‘fires’ you rather than you firing them.

Fire Investigators describe six motives of firesetters:

  • Vandalism
  • Excitement
  • Revenge
  • Crime concealment
  • Profit
  • Extremism

The first three of these would be the most likely to happen to a businesses. Research suggests that many offenders who set fires are not caught and for many setting fires is part of an overall anti-social pattern of behaviour. Some individuals have serious mental health issues and set fires for different reasons.

The Insurance Act 2015, which applies to all commercial insurance contracts, would reasonably expect a client to dislose information they know about any of their employees with ‘unspent’ convictions, however, you don’t need to disclose spent convictions.

arson in the UKSo where does that leave you and your business?

Its difficult to anticipate when an arsonist will strike and often a firesetter will not reveal themselves unless caught in the act. For smaller companies a fire may have a devastating effect resulting in it going out of business.

For larger companies with many members of staff, information and awareness of the potential danger within the Human Resources department would be a start. It is incumbent on both HR professionals and Helath and Safety officers to consider the potential risk of deliberate firesetting and mitigate the circumstances.

At our conference in London on Monday 25th September a detailed analysis of current and future developments in the field of appropriate responses to firesetting and arson will be explored featuring leading experts from the US and UK. In particular it features a former child firesetter who talks about at why she set fires and what helped her to stop.

Discover practical insights into the risks associated with arson and reveal potential actions you can take to mitigate the danger for your organisation.

Find out more