Last updated: 15.08.19

Workplace Fire Risk Assessment Guide

What steps do I need to carry out for my fire risk assessment?

Workplace fires claim lives, cause injury and result in thousands of pounds worth of damage each and every year. Here in the UK we’re lucky enough to have very high standards when it comes to construction quality and appliance safety, which means that fires are relatively rare. However, this doesn’t happen without conscious effort, and all businesses and premises have a responsibility to ensure that they’re doing all they can to help prevent fires from taking place, and mitigating the damage that they cause when they do. 

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 covers general fire safety in England and Wales, and 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. These laws place the responsibility for fire safety on businesses or premises owners, and this begins with the fire risk assessment. In this article, we’re going to take a brief look at what this is, what it includes, and how you can develop your own. 

A workplace fire risk assessment follows very much the same kind of structure as any other health and safety related risk assessment. The core purpose of it is to find out what the risks are, and gather information that will allow you to put sound fire safety policies in place. 

There are several main elements to it, as follows: 

Identifying hazards

The very first step in any assessment is to work out what the fire hazards might be. Always remember that fire requires fuel, oxygen and a source of ignition to start, and this will help you determine where risks may lie.

While use has declined in recent years, discarded cigarettes are still a major fire hazard, but other hazards can include electrical equipment, as well as large stores of what could be fuel, such as paper. 

Identifying those at risk

You’ll need to determine exactly who is at risk as part of your plan. For the most part this will include all of the people that work in the building, but it may also mean considering visitors too. You also need to decide if certain individuals are more at risk than others. Disabled, ill, elderly or young people may be more at risk in the event of a fire and need to be catered for. 

Evaluating and mitigating risk

Now that you know where the risks lie and who is at risk, you can consider the ways in which you can reduce this risk. This will include everything from the installation of fire safety equipment such as alarms and extinguishers, to making sure electrical equipment is tested, to implementing an escape procedure and assembly point. Work through each hazard and decide how you can reduce the chance of it happening, as well as considering what to do if a fire did break out. 

Prepare a plan and training

The methods of mitigating the risks you’ve identified need to be planned out and put in place. As part of this, you might need to train some of your employees. This might include showing people where the fire exits are and how to evacuate safely, but it might also include training in equipment such as extinguishers. 

Review the assessment

Finally, all assessments need to be regularly reviewed to make sure that they’re working as intended, and that no new hazards have presented themselves that now need to be included in the assessment. 

Fire assessments are the responsibility of the employer or premises owner, but they are usually taken care of by a designated fire marshal or fire warden. At Virtual College, we’re pleased to offer a course designed for those who will be responsible for fire safety policy and procedure. Visit the course page here to find out more about what it includes.

Top Fire Warden FAQs

Do I need a fire warden at work?

Businesses need a fire warden or marshal, the number of which must be appropriate to the size of the company.

Do you need training to be a fire warden?

All employees acting as fire wardens need to receive at least basic training.

What does a fire warden do?

A fire warden looks after all elements of fire safety in the workplace, including the emergency plan, fire drills, risk management, etc.

How do you become a fire warden?

Businesses usually ask for volunteers to be fire wardens and basic training is usually then provided at an official fire service training centre in the form of a one-day course.

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