Workplace fire safety is a critical aspect of business operations that every employer has to conform to. The alternative to compliance is danger to staff, property, reputation and more. It’s a big responsibility. Even if no significant changes take place to your workforce or workplace, an annual fire risk assessment is important to ensure your fire safety measures are both legally up to date and stringent.
What are the Objectives of a Fire Risk Assessment?
The main objectives of any fire risk assessment are:
- Identify fire hazards
- Identify members of staff most at risk
- Determine which fire safety measures to use
- Reduce the probability of a fire starting
- Limit the effects of a fire if one should occur
- Ensure that all staff are alerted in the event of a fire
- Ensure that all staff can leave the premises safely in the event of a fire
The reason fire risk assessments are carried out is to keep people safe. By establishing current risks and possible barriers to safety, solutions can be found before an emergency situation breaks out. There is no worse time to find a blocked exit or improperly stored flammable materials than during a life-threatening fire event.
Depending on the type of premises, when it’s occupied, its contents and its intended use, the format and outcomes of the assessment will differ. Some assessments can be incredibly complex processes that require professional assessors to step in – such as refineries and petrochemical works, occupied offshore installations or large industrial operations.
But for most offices and places of business, a self assessment carried out by a designated Responsible Person is sufficient.
Who Carries Out Fire Risk Assessments?
In your workplace, a Responsible Person (RP) will be nominated. It can be anyone, as long as they know the business and premises very well, and can complete a full assessment with written records. The RP needs to be confident that they can fulfil the requirements of a fire risk assessment and have a good concept of what constitutes a fire risk – but they don’t need any special qualifications or training to carry an assessment out.
Identifying Fire Risks
Hazards can range from blocked means of escape to exposed sources of ignition. If you find yourself in a room with no clear path to a fire escape, then you’ve identified a risk. A physical blockage to a means of escape can be deadly. It might be convenient to leave some items out, but moving a pile of clumsily stacked boxes to access a fire escape can cost lives in the event of a fire.
Fire risks include fuels, heat sources and electrical items. Common office cleaning products can be flammable and need to be stored safely away from potential ignition sources – including electrical devices, junction boxes and lighting points. Electrical items need to be tested and regularly maintained to limit their potential to cause fire.
Aerosols and compressed gases are explosive, and their containers need to be inspected for damage. Excessive and prolonged exposure to heat can cause their containers to explode.
Recording the Assessment
The assessment needs to be recorded in an ordered way, and there are plenty of fire risk assessment form templates available online. A fire risk assessment form gives RPs a structured approach to risk assessment – which helps save time, preserve accuracy and ensures a thorough and consistent assessment.
A concise floor plan or simple drawing of the premises’ escape routes needs to be included with the form, to help identify areas in need of clearing or signposting and to mark out hazards.
Once all the information has been collected, the form can be reviewed and items can be checked off when it’s time to act.
Prepare, Plan and Execute
From the results of your assessment, you can take steps towards better safety. Are more fire extinguishers needed? An improved alarm system? What about amended fire safety documentation for differently abled team members? And how will you store cleaning supplies and flammable articles?
It’s time to plan deployment and secure any new materials you might need. With a full and comprehensive assessment, you can deploy effective fire safety based on up to date, evidence-based practice – providing your staff with the safest environment possible.
Fire Safety Experts
Our expertise has led Coopers Fire to become a leader in fire safety. For more information on our non-intrusive, life-saving fire and smoke protection, or our educational training courses, call us on 02392 454 405 or email email@example.com.