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 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.
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.
Look around your workplace and see.
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.
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.
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