Fire Risk Assessments: Everything That You Need To Know

08Mar 2021

If you are the owner of a business with more than five employees, it’s your legal responsibility to ensure that you have a full fire safety risk assessment carried out on your business property and act on any concerns that come up during the process.

 

Risk assessments are there not just to identify any potential areas of higher risk where workplace fires are concerned, but also to give business owners the chance to fix fire risks where possibles and provide employees with the best possible fire safety training so that, should a workplace fire ever occur within the building, all employees know exactly what to do.

 

Here, we’ll go through the main things that you need to know as a business owner ahead of a risk assessment, including what areas will be covered, what information you will receive and how you can best act on it.

 

What Is A Risk Assessment?

 

A risk assessment is any document which is written to report any identified areas or problems which could lead to injury or fatality, give means of resolution to prevent these concerns from coming to fruition and to assess the overall level of risk involved.

 

A general risk assessment gives an overview of every risk within a workplace, whether it’s risks taken working from height, working with hot cooking equipment, operating heavy machinery, etc.

 

However, a fire safety-specific risk assessment is there to place the sole focus on the risks in relation to potential workplace fire scenarios and to highlight where measures can be taken to resolve concerns.

 

What Will A Risk Assessment Cover?

 

Risk assessments are there to keep you and your employees as safe as possible, so they are incredibly in-depth and look to cover every potential scenario, no matter how unlikely it may seem.

 

If you’re unsure whether or not a particular potential risk needs to be included in your risk assessment, remember that it’s always best to overestimate the risk than to ignore it completely. As the old saying goes, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

 

When Filling In A Fire Safety Risk Assessment, Think Of The Five Key Steps…

 

Step 1: Identify All Fire Hazards

 

There are two questions that you’ll need to ask yourself when identifying the fire hazards to cover in your risk assessments in order to ensure that you do not leave anything out:

  • Could this start a fire?
  • Could this burn?

 

Ask yourself these questions for every item in the area that you are assessing at the time.

 

Items that could potentially start a fire include heaters, lighting, electrical equipment, anything which uses a naked flame, hot processes such as wielding or grinding, cigarettes, matches and anything which causes sparks to be produced.

 

Items that may potentially burn include anything made from wood, paper, foam, plastic and rubber, clothing, furniture and rubbish, as well as more obvious flammable items such as fuels and chemicals.

 

Ensure that you note down each and everything that you identify in response to these questions.

 

Step 2: Identify The People At Risk

 

Of course, in the event that a fire does break out, everyone in the building is at risk. However, this section asks you to consider who could be the most at risk in any given area in the event that a fire does break out.

 

For example, staff who work in an area where there are an increased number of fire risks, staff or customers who are present in areas that are the furthest from their nearest fire exit, staff and customers who on a higher floor within the building, disabled staff and customers, elderly staff and customers, etc.

 

Essentially, if someone’s position in the building means that they are in an area where a fire is more likely to break out or an area where they will not be able to leave the building as easily, they are classed as ‘at risk’.

 

Step 3: Evaluate And Act

 

This may be the most time consuming section, as this part of the risk assessment asks you to act on the risks in order to reduce them or better prepare for them.

 

When completing this section, ask yourself:

  • Have you assessed the risks of a fire in your workplace?
  • Have you assessed the risks to staff and visitors?
  • Have you kept all sources of fuel and heat/sparks apart?
  • Have you protected your premises from both accidental fires and arson?
  • How can you make sure everyone is safe during a fire?
  • Will you know that there is a fire? Do you have a plan to warn others?
  • Who will make sure that everyone gets out?
  • Who will call the fire service?
  • Could you put out a small fire and stop it spreading?
  • Have you planned an escape route?
  • Have you made sure that people will be able to find their way out at night if necessary?
  • Does all your safety equipment work and do staff know how to use it?

 

Step 4: Record, Plan & Train

 

This section asks you to keep a record of any fire hazards and every measure that you have taken to control or remove them, plan how you will prevent a fire and how you will keep people safe in the case that one should occur and train your staff for their roles and escape plan in the event of a fire.

 

This is where Safe & Sound may be able to help you a great deal – we have years of knowledge and expertise surrounding both fire risk assessments and how to best act on them.

 

If you need help reducing your risks, ensuring that nothing has been missed out, as well as training your staff on their roles and behaviour in the event of a fire, we are confident that we can help you to get everything in place.

 

Step 5: Review

 

This stage is all about reviewing your risk assessment over time to ensure that it stays relevant to each and every part of your premises. If an area is updated in any way, with new furniture, design, purpose, etc. or your escape route needs to change for any reason, you must continue to update the risk assessment and retrain staff.

 

The largest task is getting your initial risk assessment together to a high standard – a process that we can help you with here at Safe & Sound. After that, it’s all about remaining vigilant and keeping your risk assessment as solid as you possibly can.

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