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Fire Safety Risk Assessment Guide

schedule 31st July 2019 by Virtual College in Health and Safety

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Why should I create a Fire Safety risk assessment?

Fire safety is an important issue, and creating an effective fire prevention strategy should be a top priority for all UK-based business owners. According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) all employers have a legal obligation to “adopt behaviours procedures and plans” that:

  • Decrease the risk of a preventable fire breaking out
  • Minimise the damage caused by accidental fires

This means investing in safety equipment, taking precautions to ensure that flammable materials are handled correctly and performing regular fire safety risk assessments. In fact, thorough and far-reaching risk assessments often form the backbone of an effective fire safety strategy; helping companies to build the systematic processes that are needed to spot emerging hazards and correct any significant risk factors before they can cause an accidental fire.

To help you produce your own fire safety risk assessments, we’ve put together this brief guide, which walks you through the risk assessment step-by-step.

What is a fire safety risk assessment?

In principle, a fire safety risk assessment is just an examination of:

  • Potential fire hazards, including ignition and fuel sources
  • The people who would be most at risk during a fire
  • Any measures designed to improve fire safety
  • Your evacuation plan

Fire safety risk assessments also need to include an evaluation of risk factors, and plans to reduce or remove any fire hazards present in the workplace. According to the terms of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, all UK businesses have a responsibility to conduct regular risk assessments.

You also have a legal obligation to record your risk assessments, which means you’ll want to create written documentation for all of the above points and make a note of your thoughts and findings during every step of the process.

These notes don’t have to be written in a specific way, but they should be thorough and legible.

Instead of just writing down that your boiler represents a fire risk (for example) you might want to make a note of the fact that your boiler might represent a fire risk if combustible materials are left in close proximity to the intake, or regular maintenance isn’t scheduled and a fault develops. According to the Health and Safety Executive, in-depth and detailed fire safety risk assessments are always preferable.

You should make sure that your fire safety risk assessment covers each of the following areas:

1. An examination of all potential fire hazards

This should include notes on potential sources of ignition and potential fuel sources. To complete this step, set aside some time to think about the materials you use in your business, and the potential hazards posed by keeping these materials in close proximity to heat sources.

Try to consider all possible fire hazards, including everyday items like cleaning chemicals, furnishings or combustible textiles.

2. A consideration of the people at risk during a fire

This includes customers, employees and temporary contractors. Make sure you make a note of any staff members with disabilities, or staff members that may be more vulnerable during an accidental fire so that you can safeguard their safety.

3. An evaluation of risks, and a strategy for mitigating them

This could include upgrading equipment, moving fuel sources away from sources of ignition or training staff to act in a way that minimizes the risk of an accidental fire or explosion.

4. An accounting of all fire safety equipment

Include details of any testing/maintenance carried out on your equipment. It’s important to remember that emergency lighting, fire doors and notices/signs all count as fire safety equipment, so don’t make the mistake of just documenting your alarms and sprinklers

5. Documentation of your evacuation plan and any relevant staff training

Include details of all access points, your emergency protocols and the advice that you’ve given to staff.

It may help you to work through each of these points on a step-by-step basis. If you’d like to learn more about fire safety assessments and/or feel that you’d benefit from additional training, you may be interested in our course on Fire Safety for Fire Marshals and Wardens which includes in-depth information on conducting fire safety risk assessments.

Fire Safety FAQs

What does fire safety mean?

Fire safety is a set of procedures which aim to reduce the amount of damage and injuries caused by fires. These include risk assessments to help identify and reduce areas of fire risk, and formulate an emergency and evacuation plan in the event that a fire does break out.

What does the fire alarm sign indicate?

Fire alarm signs give a clearly visible indication of where the nearest fire alarm is and will usually be located near fire emergency equipment.

What information do fire safety signs give?

Fire safety signs give a range of information via clear graphics, from prohibition signs around smoking to fire action signs giving instructions on what to do in the event of a fire.

Click here to view our full range of Fire Safety FAQs


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