Fire risk assessments are an essential part of protecting your staff, in fact, it is a matter that should be given priority at all times.
Let’s take a look at how legislation affects your responsibility and what a fire risk assessment actually entails.
In the past, fire safety in the United Kingdom was covered by a number of pieces of legislation, making the responsibility rather complex and at times challenging to fully grasp. Hence in 2001 it was recognized that a need existed for simplified legislation. This was fulfilled with The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 which covered both England and Whales with the Order coming into effect on 1st October 2006.
What Is The Purpose Of The The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005?
Ths Order was created so that all non-domestic premises (a few exceptions apply) have a minimum fire safety standard. A Responsible Person (RP) is designated to have duties under the Order, in a workplace, this is usually the employer.
The RP must carry out specific duties related to fire safety, these include making sure that the general fire precautions are appropriate, as well as conducting a fire risk assessment. For employers who have more than five people working for them, they must conduct a written fire risk assessment.
What Is Included In A Fire Risk Assessment?
When a fire risk assessment is carried out a number of assessments must be made. We can classify these assessments as follows:
- All fire hazards must be clearly identified
- All people at risk must be clearly identified
- Risks which have been identified must be evaluated, removed or reduced
- All findings from the fire risk assessment must be recorded
- An emergency plan should be prepared
- Appropriate training should be provided
- The fire risk assessment must be reviewed on a regular basis and updated as is seen fit.
What Should Be Considered In A Fire Risk Assessment?
Several areas need to be given close consideration during a fire risk assessment. These include:
- The emergency exits and routes
- Appropriate equipment for firefighting
- Systems for detecting fire and giving a warning
- A plan for emergency fire evacuation
- Removal of dangerous substances, including the safe storage of such
- The needs of vulnerable individuals (these may include children, elderly people or people who have disabilities)
- Information provision to people on the premises, including employees
- Appropriate training for staff.
Can You Ask Your Local Fire Authority To Carry Out Your Fire Risk Assessment?
Carrying out an effective fire risk assessment is a serious responsibility and one which entails many factors. You may be tempted to ask your local fire and rescue authority to carry out the assessment on your behalf. However, while the may be willing to provide you with advice they will not be able to carry out the assessment for you. This should not put you off contacting the fire authority as their advice can be extremely useful.
This is especially the case if you have not carried out a fire risk assessment before or if you are feeling unsure as to whether you are carrying out your fire risk assessment properly. Remember, it is your responsibility to protect your employees by having a sufficient fire risk assessment in place, hence professional advice can never be a bad thing.
Can I Appoint Someone Else To Carry Out The Fire Risk Assessment?
If you simply do not feel competent to carry out the fire risk assessment, or you feel that your time obligations make it difficult to carry out an effective assessment it may be wise to consider appointing someone else to care for the assessment.
While the RP is able to appoint someone else to care for the assessment, the appointed person cannot be ëjust anyoneí. When another individual is commissioned to conduct the fire risk assessment they must be classified as a ëcompetent personí. One excellent example of such a competent person would be a professional fire risk assessor. Whilst their services may set you back a little financially, do keep in mind that the safety of your employees doesnít come with a price tag.
Indeed, it is certainly clear that specific legislation is in place for many good reasons. The risk of fire is part of everyday life and should always be given priority. The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 commissions a Responsible Person to care for various fire risk tasks, including that of conducting regular fire risk assessments.
If you are an employer it is vital that you have a system in place to ensure that you are fully meeting the criteria outlined in the Order. This may include receiving training so that you can carry out an appropriate fire risk assessment, or appointing a ëcompetent personí to carry this out on your behalf.