Fire Risk Assessments │ Health and Safety

Fire Risk Assessments │ Health and Safety

In this month’s health and safety update, our H & S Consultant, Colin Jones, decided to discuss Fire Risk Assessments in the workplace.

All too often owners/occupiers are unaware they have an obligation to carry out a Fire Risk Assessment in their workplace.  Especially at this time of year the risk increases, there may be additional portable heaters and Christmas decorations and not to mention the increased number of people in the workplace.

The Law on Fire Risk Assessments

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 covers general fire safety in England and Wales.

In Scotland, requirements on general fire safety are covered in Part 3 of the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005, supported by the Fire Safety (Scotland) Regulations 2006.

In the majority of premises, local fire and rescue authorities are responsible for enforcing this fire safety legislation. HSE has enforcement responsibility on construction sites and on ships under construction or undergoing repair.

What Needs to Happen?

Employers (and/or building owners or occupiers) must carry out a fire safety risk assessment and keep it up to date. This shares the same approach as health and safety risk assessments and can be carried out either as part of an overall risk assessment or as a separate exercise.

Based on the findings of the assessment, employers need to ensure that adequate and appropriate fire safety measures are in place to minimise the risk of injury or loss of life in the event of a fire.

To help prevent fire in the workplace, your risk assessment should identify what could cause a fire to start, ie sources of ignition (heat or sparks) and substances that burn, and the people who may be at risk.

Once you have identified the risks, you can take appropriate action to control them. Consider whether you can avoid them altogether or, if this is not possible, how you can reduce the risks and manage them. Also, consider how you will protect people if there is a fire.

  • Carry out a fire safety risk assessment
  • Keep sources of ignition and flammable substances apart
  • Avoid accidental fires, eg make sure heaters cannot be knocked over
  • Ensure good housekeeping at all times, eg avoid build-up of rubbish that could burn
  • Consider how to detect fires and how to warn people quickly if they start, eg installing smoke alarms and fire alarms or bells
  • Have the correct fire-fighting equipment for putting a fire out quickly
  • Keep fire exits and escape routes clearly marked and unobstructed at all times
  • Ensure your workers receive appropriate training on procedures they need to follow, including fire drills
  • Review and update your risk assessment regularly

Look around your workplace and see.

  • When was the last time fire extinguishers where inspected?
  • When was portable electrical equipment last tested?
  • Has there been any significant changes that might affect the risk of fire within the workplace

Ask your staff, do they know the fire drill? Do we have an assembly point?

If there is uncertainty or clear indication that things need updating then you are highly recommended to act on it immediately. Not only could it save lives but if the workplace is damaged and an insurance claim is needed. It is likely that your insurance company will ask for an up to date fire risk assessment.

This Really Happened…..

A shopkeeper regularly threw packing waste by the back door of his shop as he quickly stocked the shelves after a delivery. His workers sometimes opened the back door to have a cigarette break outside.

One week he’d left the pile of rubbish for several days and a discarded cigarette butt caused it to catch fire. By the time the fire was spotted and put out, it had caused substantial damage to his back door and his shelving units. There was a significant cost in damaged stock and repairs.

How the Fire Could Have Been Prevented

This fire could have been easily prevented if the shopkeeper had completed his risk assessment and taken simple steps to control the risks.

At HPC we can assist in the completion of a Fire Risk Assessment for your workplace and give you peace of mind that not only will you be compliant but will be able to put practical steps in place to ensure that the risk is kept to a minimum and staff are adequately trained in the event of a fire.

Should you wish to discuss any of these points, or you are looking to create a smooth HR operation please get in contact with the team at HPC today.

T: 0844 800 5932


Twitter: @HPC_HRServices

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