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Fire Risk Asessment - It's The Law

Aug 17, 2007
Any responsible person, even with limited formal instruction or experience, can do a simple fire risk assessment. More complex buildings will need to be assessed by a person with full training and experience in fire risk assessment.

Mainly companies and building owners will be affected by the new legislation but it could be anyone who has some control over premises. Fire certificates will no longer be valid.

Under the new regulations it is the responsibility of employers to do a risk assessment of their places of work, which must contain provisions concerning fire safety measures in the workplace.

The responsible person must go over the risk assessment frequently to keep it current, particularly if:
. There is reason to believe that it is no longer valid; or
. There has been a major change in the matters to which it relates, or there have been expansions or substantial changes in the organisation of work

The risk assessment should be done to make sure that appropriate fire precautions, maintenance and management measures are in place to guarantee the safety of anyone who might use your premises.

The Fire and Rescue Authority will now examine premises and undertake audits of fire risk assessments to put into effect the requirements of the Regulatory Reform Order.

The Five Steps To Fire Risk Assessment:

Step 1: Identify fire hazards
Is there a system for controlling the amounts of combustible materials and flammable liquids and gases, including cleaning fluids, stationery and waste, kept in the workplace?

Is the system working correctly? Are all combustible materials and flammable liquids and gases stored safely? Are all items of portable electrical equipment checked frequently and fitted with the correct rated fuses?

Step 2: Identify the persons at significant risk in case of fire
Think about who might be in or near your premises that would need to know about your fire protection systems - including employees, people in adjoining buildings, visitors or contractors.

Is there an adequate number of proper exits of suitable width for the persons present? Do the exits lead to a place of safety? Are passageways and escape routes free from obstacles and tripping hazards? Are steps and stairs in a good state of repair? Are final exits always unlocked when the premises are in use?

Step 3: Evaluate the risks
Control sources of ignition and the use and storage of flammable materials. Do procedures and practices avoid the use of combustible materials or processes that use heat?

Has thought been given to all cost-effective measures that can be taken to prevent the incidence of arson? Have employees been taught how to call the fire brigade, the use of the fire extinguishers and basic fire prevention?

Step 4: Record your findings and action taken
This depends on the size of your workplace and the likelihood of fire. If you employ five or more people have you recorded the findings of the fire risk assessment?

Have you told your employees or their representatives about your findings? If you have prepared a final report has it been shown to your employees? If you share the workplace with others do they know about the risks you have identified?

Step 5: Keep assessment under review
Has a procedure been set up to go over the fire risk assessment at regular intervals?

The task of complying with the Fire Safety Order rests with the "responsible person". Under Article 9 of the Order the responsible person must ensure that a fire risk assessment is carried out to identify the general precautions required.

Detailed advice on carrying out a fire risk assessment is contained in the Home Office/Scottish Executive/Northern Ireland DoE/HSE publication, Fire Safety: An Employer's Guide.
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