Fires are a severe threat that can be extremely dangerous and even fatal. Removing hazards and preventing fires are essential to safety, and they start with a fire risk assessment. A fire risk assessment will help identify fire risks in your premises and order them by likelihood and severity. It will provide a clear picture of the risks in your workplace and help you build a plan to prevent and respond to fires on your premises.
Identifying Fire Hazards
The first stage of a fire risk assessment is to identify potential hazards. Any situation where a source of ignition, fuel, and oxygen could come into contact is a potential fire risk. A fire risk assessment will look to identify the possibility of this happening.
Common sources of ignition include heaters, lighting and electrical equipment. Materials which could burn should be kept away from these ignition sources.
Identifying People At Risk
Once you have identified potential fire hazards, you must assess who is at risk. The level of risk will be different for different people. For example, those closest to hazards may be at higher risk. People with mobility issues may also be more vulnerable. Visitors or others unfamiliar with the premises may also be at greater risk.
Evaluating And Removing Risks
The third stage is to evaluate the information gathered in stages one and two. Using the information collected, work to remove risks and, where they cannot be fully eliminated, reduce them as best as possible. Even if a risk seems unlikely, you should remove it if possible. Avoid the potential for fuel to come into contact with an ignition source at all opportunities.
Recording Your Findings
In the fourth stage of the risk assessment, you will collate the information and steps taken from stages one, two, and three. Record all of your findings and highlight each potential hazard and the steps taken to mitigate the risks.
By this stage, you should have a clear plan for preventing a fire. You should also have a plan to keep occupants safe if a fire occurs. This may require fire safety training for staff.
Your premises should be properly equipped with fire extinguishers and employees should be trained to operate them to deal with small fires safely. Keeping employees informed of fire safety plans will also offer reassurance and help you to reduce risks.
Reviewing Your Fire Risk Assessments
A fire risk assessment should be an up-to-date reflection of your business premises and the risks present. As circumstances change, your fire risk assessment should too. Your fire risk assessment needs to be updated and reviewed regularly to ensure you are reducing all risks and best protecting the property’s occupants. If significant changes are made, this information will need to be shared throughout the organisation. In some cases, changes to a fire risk assessment may require employees to undergo additional fire safety training.
Who Can Do A Fire Risk Assessment?
A small business without complex fire risk challenges can complete its own risk assessments following Government fire risk assessment guidance. Larger businesses with more complex requirements will need to use a suitably qualified fire risk assessment specialist to conduct their assessment. If your business premises is unsafe or an assessment has not been completed, you may be subject to fines. In some cases, if people are at risk, the business may be closed until it can be made safe.
If you are responsible for a building which is not a private home, it is your duty to ensure a fire risk assessment is completed. Fire risk assessments must be kept as a written record for business premises with five or more workers.