With the change of unlimited fines being handed out to business owners for poor fire safety practice, Fire Risk Assessments couldn’t be more important within your organisation.
Most fires are preventable and the responsible person for any premises that is for commercial use can avoid them by taking responsibility and adopting the right behaviours and procedures within their workplace. The importance of fire risk assessments should never be overlooked as fires can have a huge impact not only with the threat to life, but also to the threat of your business. In addition to your duty to ensure the safety of those employed by you on your premises, as well as visitors, contractors and with insurers also usually stipulating a legal requirement as part of your policy.
How would a fire in the workplace affect your business?
There are many contributing factors to the aftermath of a fire, even if no one is hurt and it goes without saying that it can be a very traumatic experience for employees short and long term. Even where people are able to continue working it can be a very difficult experience that can leave employees feeling unsettled. Other effects on the business as a whole can include:-
- The cost of investigations
- Damage to the building and equipment
- Downtime from unusable premises
- Potential lack of insurance payout
- The impact on employees
- Administration costs
- Loss of data and documents
- Temporary relocation costs
- Suspension of staff on full pay if no alternative workplace.
- Bad publicity / brand damage
- Legal costs, fees and possible prosecutions
- Loss of business
The list is endless.
What do I have to do?
The Responsible person which could be employers, building owners or occupiers must carry out a fire safety risk assessment and keep it up to date. This shares the same approach as health and safety risk assessments and can be carried out either as part of an overall risk assessment or as a separate exercise. Based on the findings of the assessment, the responsible person needs 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.
To help prevent fire in the workplace, your risk assessment should identify what could cause a fire to start, ie sources of ignition (heat or sparks), sources of fuel (substances that combust), and the people who may be at risk. Once you have identified the risks, you can take appropriate action to control them. Also, consider whether you can avoid them altogether or, if this is not possible, how you can reduce the risks and manage them correctly.
- Carry out a fire safety risk assessment
- Keep sources of ignition and flammable substances apart
- Avoid accidental fires
- Ensure good housekeeping at all times, e.g., avoid build-up of waste
- 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
Do l need to carry out a Fire Risk Assessment every year?
The guidance on this states that a fire risk assessment will need to be carried out at “regular” intervals based on the risk of the building. You should look at completing an assessment when there are any structural changes to the building, major changes in staff or a change in the function of the building. There are many more reasons why you should also complete a fire risk assessment.
Guidance states that any one from the workplace can complete a Fire Risk Assessment, However, the person must always be deemed ‘competent’
Having a competent assessment done is an excellent way for you to encourage good safety practices. When your staff sees that you are working with professionals to proactively manage fire safety, they will know that safety is a priority for you promoting a positive safety culture.
Midlands Health and Safety Consultancy can complete Competent Fire Risk Assessments to PAS79 British standards.
For further information on the importance of fire Risk Assessments, or requests for the completion of fire risk assessments please contact us here.