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What Is Involved In A Fire Risk Assessment?

Jul 17, 2008
As of 2006 government legislation demands that all business premises have had a fire risk assessment to assess the risk of fire and ways to reduce it. In the past the fire safety system in the UK depended upon fire certificates that deemed whether a premises was safe or not. Today this has changed with a major shift of emphasis; now legislation is more focussed upon reducing the risks of fire in the workplace. This means that anyone who is deemed responsible in a work premises, such as a manager, has a responsibility to take steps towards making that premises safer for the workers who inhabit it on a day to day basis.

For business managers this means that even if you have had a fire certificate in the past, which involved an element of risk assessment, a new assessment is needed to meet regulatory demands. Even if your business is in the same situation, for example if no new machinery or staff members have joined, the risk assessment will have to take place, even if its findings are somewhat limited. That said, the assessment may well find matters and problems that you were previously unaware of, when it comes to safety, it really is better to be safe than sorry.

When it comes to making a fire risk assessment of a business premises there are certain key elements that must be involved. Ultimately it sets out to find the chances of a fire occurring and the types of dangers workers are likely to face in the event of a blaze. The assessor will normally work in conjunction with the current health and safety legislation in order to comply with government regulations. Of vital importance is to prepare thoroughly before undergoing an assessment, and plan it in a way that it will not disrupt your operations too much.

Fundamentally any risk assessment will follow a five step procedure and methodology. The first is to identify hazards that may ignite and feed a blaze, second is investigate which employees will be most at risk should a fire occur. Thirdly, it is vital to understand where your current fire precautions could be deemed inadequate and fourthly the findings of the assessor must be recorded conscientiously. Finally, part of any assessment will define a schedule when future assessments should take place.

Naturally as the business manager or owner, there is nobody out there who understands your fire safety situation as much as you. When the assessment is taking place it is important to use this knowledge and experience. In addition it is also advisable to consult members of staff and discuss any concerns they may have over safety issues. Members of staff can make a valuable contribution raising points that would otherwise be overlooked; with such a resource at your disposal, it would be foolhardy to ignore it. The risk assessment should always be carried out in a systematic and logical way. Taking into account not just specific areas but the workplace as a whole is the ultimate objective. Ultimately the process is an all encompassing solution to fire safety issues.

Hopefully this article has gone some of the way to increase the understanding of the fire risk assessment process. As a business manager, it is now a legal requirement to ensure the safety of your staff; by following the advice given here you should be create a workplace that is above all, safe.
About the Author
Regulatory compliance expert Thomas Pretty looks into the importance of a fire risk assessment for all business premises.
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