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Why Your Business Needs A Fire Safety Consultant

May 31, 2008
A fire safety consultant can do much for your business, offering professional and knowledgeable advice on all manner of health and safety issues whilst specialising in the causes and risks posed from fire. A consultant can be especially useful if your business has specific requirements that are part and parcel of your industry. While it may be possible to carry out certain health and safety procedures without the expertise of a consultant, in some areas, their knowledge is a useful and valuable asset. Having a consultant will ensure your business' legal requirements are met and you do not fall foul of the law.

The law does not necessarily enforce that you must employ a fire safety consultant. Many businesses will be able to entrust tasks such as the fire risk assessment to the 'competent person', that is the person with sufficient health and safety training to be deemed as competent. If your business operates with the minimum of fire risks it is unlikely you will need a consultant in order to comply with safety regulations. In this situation, carrying out tasks yourself or entrusting them to a suitably trained member of staff is an acceptable solution. Some businesses may need a consultant however, if they have specialised risks, such as working with highly flammable materials. In this case, a consultant can be useful in creating risk assessments and putting in place suitable fire safety procedures.

Even if you use a fire safety consultant however, the ultimate responsibility of meeting legal requirements is yours as the business manager. Before hiring a consultant for a fee, it is worth enquiring what government provisions are in place that you will be able to use for free. Also it will be worth weighing up the cost of a consultant against the benefits. An external assessor can save you time and energy but if your business cannot afford the fees it is hardly the ideal solution to your health and safety needs.

Your fire safety consultant can offer a wide array of services to meet your health and safety requirements. Of course they can meet your legally required risk assessment expertly but they can also evaluate different risks when situations and circumstances change. In addition to this, the constant upheaval of the legal regulations means that an expert can be needed to stay abreast of developments as well as liaise with the government departments who enforce the regulations. A consultant can also save money in terms of training costs as they will be able to evaluate your training needs efficiently and also carry out much of the training. If your advisor is on site much of the time it will possible for them to monitor how your staff members are following fire procedures.

A consultant can also help you develop and create an occupational health and safety management system or OHSMS. This has rapidly become popular with all manner of businesses as its creation can help with regulatory compliance. If it is deemed efficient enough it may even be given a system standard from an official body; this can go a long way to proving to customers and staff members alike that you take your health and safety procedures very seriously.

When you are choosing a fire safety consultancy service you need to determine whether they have enough professionals with qualifications or if they are connected to any regulating bodies. Like hiring an employee you should look for references from former customers. Make sure they can provide your staff members with training and have effective ways in which to communicate their findings and work with you. Ultimately a fire consultancy is a paid service so ensuring you are receiving a good deal is important.

Fire safety and health and safety more generally should be taken very seriously. In a world full of regulations and legal responsibilities your role as a business manger is to ensure suitable provisions and procedures are pursued in order to minimise the risks of fire. While a consultant may be a considerable outlay, the cost of a fire can be far greater.
About the Author
Industry expert Thomas Pretty looks into the importance of having a fire safety consultant for your business.
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