Fire Risk Assessments are an on-going part of an employer’s responsibility to its workforce to ensure that the employer is compliant with its statutory obligations and that staff are safe and protected.
The specific legislation that governs an employer or organisation’s statutory duties comes in The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, which covers England and Wales.
We’ll take a look at its chief requirements and offer an outline as to best practice.
In essence, nearly all non-domestic premises (offices, shops, factories, warehouses and so on) must have a minimum standard. And there must be a “Responsible Person” (RP, usually the employer) who will ensure that these standards are met.
The RP must ensure that fire precautions are appropriate and they must conduct a fire risk assessment. This has to be kept up to date. Where there are more than five employees, the assessment must be written.
The purpose is to ensure that adequate and appropriate fire safety measures are in place to minimise the risk of injury or loss of life in the event of a fire.
Things to consider are:
- What could cause a fire?
- What possible sources of ignition or sparks are there in your workplace? This could be kitchen equipment or engineering tools, for instance.
- Are there any substances that could burn?
- Who are the employees who might be at risk?
Once you have carried out this evaluation, you need to consider whether risks can be removed altogether or, at least, how you can reduce the risk and manage them. That means considering what you would do to protect staff should a fire start.
The Health & Safety Executive counsels taking the following steps:
- Carry out a fire safety risk assessment
- Keep sources of ignition and flammable substances apart
- Avoid accidental fires, e.g. make sure heaters cannot be knocked over
- Ensure good housekeeping at all times, e.g. avoid build-up of rubbish that could burn
- Consider how to detect fires and how to warn people quickly if they start, e.g. installing smoke alarms and fire alarms or bells
- Have the correct fire-fighting equipment for putting a fire out quickly
- Keep fire exits and escape routes clearly marked and unobstructed at all times
- Ensure your workers receive appropriate training on procedures they need to follow, including fire drills
- Review and update your risk assessment regularly
Finally, if no one within your organisation feels sufficiently qualified to carry out a fire safety risk assessment, contract the services of a professional fire risk assessor. It might cost you a little, but it will ensure that your workforce is protected and your organisation can have peace of mind.