Ensuring the safety of your premises and the people within it is paramount. One of the key aspects of safety is fire risk assessment. Here's a simplified guide to what you need to know:
Understanding Your Responsibility
If you're the 'responsible person' defined within the Law, it's your duty to have a thorough fire risk assessment of your business and the premises which you operate.
The person conducting this assessment must be "competent". This means they should have the necessary knowledge, skills, and experience related to fire risks in your industry.
New Regulations from October 2023
For businesses in England and Wales, all fire risk assessments must be written down from October 2023, irrespective of the organisation's size.
These assessments should be comprehensive, detailing all identified risks.
Only a competent person can conduct or update a fire risk assessment from this date. In many cases, this might mean hiring a professional fire risk assessor or consultant.
Choosing the Right Assessor
If you don't have an in-house competent person, consider hiring an external fire safety consultant.
Always verify the competence of a prospective fire risk assessor. One way is to check their registration with professional bodies like The Institution of Fire Engineers or Fire Risk Assessors Certification Scheme.
Ensure they have experience relevant to your business type and consider asking for references.
Conducting the Assessment: A 5-Step Guide
Step 1: Identify Fire Hazards - Recognise potential ignition sources, fuels, and oxygen sources.
Step 2: Recognise Who's at Risk - Consider employees, customers, and especially vulnerable individuals like children or those with mobility issues.
Step 3: Evaluate and Mitigate Risks - Determine the likelihood of a fire and its potential impact. Implement measures to reduce these risks, such as fire-fighting equipment, alarms, clear emergency exits, and safety drills.
Step 4: Document and Implement - Record your findings, especially if you have 5 or more employees. Inform and train your staff about the identified risks and protective measures.
Step 5: Regularly Review - Update your assessment if there are changes in your business operations or the layout of your premises.
Fire and Rescue Authorities won't conduct a fire risk assessment for you, but they can offer advice if you're unsure about your assessment's adequacy.
Remember, while you can delegate the assessment, the responsibility for its adequacy always lies with you.
Stay informed, stay safe, and ensure that your business is always prepared for potential fire hazards.