Office fire safety is not just good for your well-being and that of your employees. It is also something that you are required by law to enforce in your premises.
According to the Regulatory Reform Order, anyone who owns or manages or runs any commercial premises must ensure that they take reasonable steps to reduce fire risks and put up measures that allow people to escape the building safely should a fire break out.
The order requires that premises, excluding private homes, undergo a fire risk assessment as often as possible to ensure fire safety measures are in place.
As a business owner, it is in your best interest to ensure that your premises meet all fire safety requirements as set by the Regulatory Reform Order. In this article, we will be looking at why a fire risk assessment is vital and how it can help you protect both you and your business. Read on to learn more.
Why is a Fire Risk Assessment So Important?
The importance of fire risk assessments to businesses can never be over-emphasised. Let’s say your premises catches fire; the ensuing inferno would not only damage the structure, but it would also put the lives of those inside the building (i.e., your employees and visitors) in danger.
And while fire extinguishers and fire alarm systems are vital, they are no longer enough to guarantee a safer working environment. Today, fire safety training and fire risk assessment have become an essential part of safeguarding businesses and ensuring they are well protected from all fire risks and hazards.
Fire Risk Assessment: Who Needs It?
Businesses that employ more than five people are required, by law, to conduct a fire risk assessment of their premises and keep a written record, while those that employ fewer than five people aren’t required to do so. If the latter applies to you, still consider keeping a record.
It’s worth noting that it is the person in charge of a business or premises (e.g. employer, owner, self-employed individual, landlord) responsibility to plan for how a fire risk assessment will be undertaken.
Who’s Responsible for Conducting a Fire Risk Assessment?
Technically anyone who’s “competent” enough to do so. However, it’s recommended that you have the assessment done by someone with the necessary training, experience, and skills. This must be a person who has a good understanding of how people behave during fire situations.
Therefore, it’s advised that you hire a certified company’s services for the most comprehensive assessment. Do note that the fire risk assessment report is a legal document that can be relied on in a court of law should anything happen.
What’s Involved During a Fire Risk Assessment?
Fire safety risk assessments involve the methodical and organised look at premises, the activities that occur within a building, the building’s fire hazards, and the extent of damage or harm a fire could cause to those in and around the building.
A fire risk assessment must be as thorough and systematic as possible while following logical patterns through several stages. The assessment must be specific to the premises concerned and to fire safety. Fire risk assessment involves:
- Evaluating building age, layout, and condition.
- Identifying possible risk factors such as flammable materials and ignition sources.
- Recording current fire safety arrangement/equipment such as fire alarm systems, escape routes, fire extinguishers, staff training, and emergency lighting.
- Evaluation of current fire safety drills and training.
- Writing a fire risk report after the assessment, recommending improvements to existing fire safety measures, and highlighting issues that need to be addressed.
The assessment approach recommended by the Fire Safety Order follows the methods used in general safety and health legislation. It is typically carried out as a separate exercise or as part of a more generalised risk assessment. The process follows five crucial steps.
Detailed guidance for employers is available at the Department for Communities and Local Government and lists the following fire risk assessment steps:
Step #1: Identify Potential Fire Hazards
- Sources of oxygen
- Sources of fuel
- Sources of ignition
Step #2: Identify the People at Risk
- People especially at risk, e.g. disabled people, the elderly, or infirm.
- People in and around the premises
Step #3: Evaluate the building’s fire risk and decide if the existing measures are sufficient. Reduce or remove risk where possible.
- Assess the risk of a fire occurring
- Assess the risks a fire presents to people
- Reduce or remove fire hazards
- Reduce or remove the things that pose a threat to people
- Signs and notices
- Fire fighting
- Detection and warning
- Escape routes
Step #4: Record, Strategize, Apprise, and Train
- Record noteworthy finding and the actions that have been taken
- Create an emergency plan
- Inform and instruct the relevant teams; where necessary, co-ordinate and co-operate with others
- Provide fire safety training
Step #5: Review
- Keep the fire risk assessment under review
- Revise the assessment review where and when necessary
When conducting a fire risk assessment, make sure it encompasses the entire building, including storage areas and sheds, outdoor locations, and any rarely used rooms or areas.
If the building is small, it might be possible to assess it all at once. However, it’s generally easier to divide the building into a series of assessment areas or rooms when it comes to larger structures.
How Long Do Fire Risk Assessments Last?
Fire risk assessment is an ongoing thing, though you should have your assessment report reviewed regularly. A simple annual review should do; however, if you have recently made changes to your workplace or premises such as bought new materials or processors, altered the layout, or hired more staff, then consider having another assessment done.
Your assessment report is an invaluable piece of document that can prove useful in helping you and your staff stay aware of the premises and its fire risks.
Want to protect your visitors, employees, and the continuity of your business? Arrange to have your premises assessed for fire risk today. Get in touch with a fire risk assessment specialist for assistance.