Fire Risk Assessments – the 5 steps
Who can conduct the risk assessments?
If you’re an employer, owner, landlord or occupier of business, you’re what’s known as ‘the responsible person’.
You can conduct a risk assessment yourself, but it’s unadvisable, especially if you have a large building or use risky substances.
Who should you hire?
Generally, it’s advisable to hire an external risk assessor. This is because they know what to look for, and will be able to recommend the best solution. You’ll also normally get documentation, to prove your risk assessment has been professionally conducted, something you may need later on.
When choosing your risk assessor, look for evidence that they’re trained and qualified. Are they BAFE registered or BSEN certified? What other certificates do they have?
It’s also a good idea to check they’re adequately insured.
Can my fire marshals conduct my risk assessments?
Trained staff fire marshals will also be able to conduct your risk assessments. You can get staff trained in just 4 hours, and they can carry out a risk assessment whenever your building or business changes.
How should I conduct the risk assessment myself?
If you have a small building and would like to conduct the risk assessment yourself, there are 5 steps you should follow.
1. Identify your fire hazards
• Have you found anything that could burn?
– Think of the obvious items (petrol, gas, paper)
– What items do you take for granted (foam, wooden furniture and packaging can all burn)
• Are there any potential sources of ignition?
– Any item that gets hot is a risk
– Consider heaters, lighting, electrics, cigarettes
• Are there any sources of oxygen?
– Oxygen is needed for a fire to burn
2. Identify people at risk
• Who is at risk?
– All employees and site visitors are at some risk
• Is there anybody who’s at greater risk?
– Are there any children, elderly or disabled people to consider?
– Perhaps some employees work with dangerous substances
– Are there any staff members who work in isolation?
3. Evaluate and act
• Remove and reduce risks
– How can you keep fuel and sources of ignition apart?
– Have you removed or secured fuel an arsonist could use?
– Can flammable items be replaced by less flammable ones?
– Implement safe policies, for example, a safe smoking policy
• Create a fire plan
– How will you raise the alarm?
– How will you alert others?
– Who will call the fire service?
– How will you stop the fire from spreading?
– Do you have the right firefighting tools?
• Develop an emergency evacuation plan
– Have you planned an escape route?
– Does everyone know what this route is?
– Can people find their way out if there’s a fire?
– Do you have/need emergency lighting or exit signs?
– Does all of your safety equipment work?
– Do people know how to use your tools?
4. Record, plan and train
• Document your findings and the action you took
– If you have 5 or more staff, it is a must
• Create a fire plan
– Decide what you and everyone should do if there’s a fire
– Discuss this with staff so they know how to respond
– Have you included those who share your building in your fire plan?
• Train staff
– Do staff members know how to respond to a fire?
– Have you had any practice fire drills (make sure you record them)?
– Have you nominated staff for roles and trained them?
– Have temporary staff been trained and informed?
• Keep your risk assessment under regular review
– Has there been a change to your building?
– Has there been a fire or near miss?
– Have you changed your work practices?
– Do you use any different substances?
– Have you planned your next fire drill?
photo credit: DaveCrosby
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