Fire risk assessments in the workplace
According to the most recent health and safety statistics, there are in the region of 22,000 workplace fires each year in the UK, equating to an average of 423 each week.
A regular and thorough fire risk assessment can prevent fires in workplaces – in fact, the reality is, that most fires that occur are entirely preventable.
Due to fires being able to grow rapidly in a short period of time, fires can cause enormous damage and harm to individuals and business premises, often before the fire brigade can bring it under control.
By carrying out regular and thorough fire risk assessments and putting in place suitable measures, fires in the workplace can be avoided.
So what exactly is involved in a fire risk assessment, and what type of measures can be put in place to prevent fires from breaking out and spreading?
Who is legally responsible for carrying out fire risk assessments?
You’re responsible for carrying out a fire risk assessment if you’re an employer, building owner, landlord, or occupier (referred to as a ‘responsible person’) under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
In addition, those responsible for looking after premises are also responsible for fire safety, including facilities managers, building managers, managing agents and fire risk assessors.
The fact that numerous parties are accountable for fire safety can cause confusion when it comes to determining who is ultimately responsible. The law says that where multiple parties have responsibility for fire safety, they must all work together to meet their legal obligations.
Anyone with a level of control for buildings/premises must take reasonable steps to reduce the risk of fire and ensure people can safely escape if a fire breaks out.
It’s also possible to hand the task of carrying out fire safety assessments to another person, for example the health & safety consultants at Primed but you are still legally accountable as a responsible person.
What is involved in a fire risk assessment?
The aim of a fire risk assessment is to proactively identify any potential causes of fire and then take appropriate action to remove or reduce the risk.
There are four main steps involved in any fire risk assessment, as follows:
Identify fire hazards, including:
- sources of ignition;
- sources of fuel; and
- sources of oxygen.
- Identify those people at risk of fire – including those in and around the premises
Evaluate, remove or reduce the risks – this involves:
- Evaluating the risk of a fire starting in the premises.
- Evaluating the risk to people from a fire.
- Removing or reducing any fire hazards identified
- Removing or reducing the risks of fire to people in and around the premises
- Protecting people by putting in place effective fire precautions.
Record your findings, prepare an emergency plan and provide training – this involves:
- Recording any major findings and actions you have taken during the fire risk assessment.
- Discussing and working with other responsible people.
- Preparing an emergency plan.
- Informing and instructing relevant people.
- Providing training.
- Reviewing and updating your fire risk assessment regularly and making changes where necessary
How can premises be made safe from fire?
There are many ways to remove or mitigate the risk of a fire, including:
- Replacing highly flammable materials with ones that are non-flammable or at least less flammable
- Separate all flammable materials from any potential sources of ignition
- Implement a safe-smoking policy.
- Install a modern and suitable fire detection and warning system
- Install portable fire extinguishers (the general rule of thumb is that business premises should have one fire extinguisher for every 200 square metres of floor area and have at least one on each floor
- Provide safe routes for people to evacuate in the event of a fire
- Install fire exit doors
- Install emergency lighting and fire safety signage
- Provide regular and updated training to all staff members on the risk of fires in the workplace, how they can prevent fires, and what to do in the event of a fire.
When it comes to fire safety, it is vital to avoid complacency and to assume that another party is taking responsibility for carrying out fire risk assessments.
By assuming that you are a responsible person and working in close conjunction with all other parties concerned with building safety, you can ensure that your employees and business are protected from the possibility of a fire.
I need a fire risk assessment carried out
Health & Safety experts
At Primed, we’re known for our personal approach and quality of advice. Our health & safety consultants are highly experienced, with a range of practical experience and can help your business comply with health & safety legislation.
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