There’s only one way of truly knowing how safe your premises are, and that’s to complete a fire risk assessment. It’s how we safeguard our businesses from having to try and recover from the tragedy of a fire.
You may think you only had one last year, so you’re covered. But you’re not. The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 requires that your fire risk assessment be reviewed regularly.
But you also need to ensure it gets done whenever there is a major change to the structure or use of a premises.
Many fire services recommend you do a fire risk assessment annually so that any new risks, or changes in legislation, are considered and rectified accordingly. This gives you peace of mind that you’re fully compliant.
The purpose of doing that is to ensure everything remains up to date and any changes that may have occurred can be accounted for. Otherwise, new hazards may be present with nothing being done about them.
What Do I Need?
It’s a legal requirement that if you hire five or more people, you need to keep a written record of the fire risk assessment.
If you hire fewer people, you still need to be carrying these out. And in order to prove you’re fulfilling your responsibility if something goes wrong, it is still good practice to document them.
The responsibility for ensuring it gets carried out falls to the person who owns or manages the premises. Failure to do so can result in a fine of up to £5,000 or imprisonment.
Fire risk assessments are a requirement for every non-domestic premises. That includes workplaces, places with public access, and common areas of multi-occupied residential buildings.
These can be carried out by any competent individual. However, with a professional risk assessor, you’re likely to get a better quality assessment. They not only have the experience and understanding but they also benefit from an outsider’s perspective also.
It’s the best way of ensuring you’re doing everything possible to prevent a fire, and have procedures in place should one start.
What Is Its Purpose?
The point of a fire risk assessment is to look around the premises and recognise any potential fire hazards that exist. These include ways a fire could start and things which could burn.
Then you look at who is at risk. If there is a fire, then everyone is at risk. But who is especially at risk? This can include visitors and customers unfamiliar with your premises, as well as the disabled, the elderly and children.
And then you evaluate everything you’ve found and look at how you can remove and reduce the risks. It is then important to take the relevant action needed.
You’ll want to ensure there are methods of detecting a fire and then warning everyone. As well as that, you need to have clear emergency exit routes which allow for a swift and safe exit.
Providing equipment, such as fire extinguishers, is essential to prevent small fires so they don’t spread. But, as with any equipment you provide, you then need to provide training to staff on how to use them.
Also, train staff on basic fire awareness. Plus, larger premises will need to have trained fire wardens too. These are members of staff you trust to assist you in fire prevention duties and keep calm during a fire emergency.
What Else Do I Need To Know?
You can opt to carry out the fire risk assessment yourself if you’re competent enough to do so. However, if it is insufficient or poor, you risk being on the wrong side of the law.
A lot of companies get theirs completed by a professionally qualified fire risk assessor.
This not only gives them peace of mind, but saves them time, money, and potentially lives.
An assessor would visit the premises and create a detailed risk assessment. With that, there will also be guidance on how you can improve fire safety.
It is also important that you have fire extinguishers serviced annually. This should be completed by a professional engineer who will check their condition and keep them operational. That way, you know anyone can rely on them when they’re needed most.
On top of that, annual electrical and gas safety checks need to be carried out by trained engineers. This is in order to minimise the risk of a fault which could result in a fire.
But it doesn’t matter whether you decide to carry out your fire risk assessment yourself, or get a professional in. Think of it as an investment in safeguarding the future of your business.
Just remember that when it comes to the safety of yourself and others, the time, effort and money it may cost you is worthwhile.