Who Needs a Fire Risk Assessment?
A fire risk assessment, as the name suggests, involves assessing the risks and hazards within your environment and then undertaking remedial measures to avoid or eradicate these risks as far as possible. However, although the concept is fairly straightforward, the implementation can be extremely difficult, especially when many people are unaware what a Risk Assessment actually involves, whether or not they need to do one and the implications of failing to do one or doing one inadequately.
As such, the fire safety professionals down at City Fire have compiled a handy guide to help you work out if your property requires a Fire Risk Assessment and, if so, what to do next…
Why do businesses need a Fire Risk Assessment?
According to the National Office for Statistics, every year approximately 500 people in the UK will die in a fire, making it one of the biggest health and safety threats in the country. Therefore, it is vital that the danger of fire is removed as far as possible – whether that involves fitting and regularly checking fire alarms in your home or designing a comprehensive fire safety equipment system in your commercial building, including the installation of fire alarms, fire extinguishers, fire safety signs and emergency lighting.
Another way that the threat of fire is drastically reduced is by conducting a Fire Risk Assessment. An incredibly important tool for businesses and commercial buildings, they involve identifying all the risks present within your environment and then removing certain risks, changing your work processes or fitting fire safety equipment as necessary.
Are they required by law?
In order to comply with the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (regulation 3), Fire Risk Assessments are essential for all employers, or individuals who are self-employed.
Additionally, the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 states that the Risk Assessment must be carried out by “competent persons”. Competence is defined as having suitable training, qualifications, knowledge, experience and qualities in fire safety matters which is why, a lot of the time, they are performed by trained and experienced fire safety specialists.
According to the legal regulations, the person in charge of undertaking a Risk Assessment is whoever is deemed the ‘responsible person’ – so the owner or manager of the building – and they must make sure it is reviewed and updated on a regular basis.
What types of businesses are they designed for?
With the exception of private residential properties, Fire Risk Assessments must be performed at all premises. This includes licensed premises (such as pubs, restaurants and hotels), retail environments (including shopping centres, petrol stations and supermarkets), places of education (schools, colleges, universities) and places of entertainment (theatres, swimming pools and leisure centres). It also includes residential landlords with houses used for multiple occupancy and the common parts of apartment buildings, such as the stairs, hallways and corridors.
Additionally, in business premises with 5 or more employees, it is legal requirement for the Risk Assessment to be formally recorded and documented, and that these records must be periodically reviewed.
What do they entail?
Risk Assessments are designed to aid risk reduction and fire prevention and, as such, primarily identify possible fire hazards within your environment. The assessment stage then involves reducing or eliminating these risks as appropriate and creating comprehensive fire safety plans for everyone who lives or works within your property.
There are 5 main steps to carrying out a Fire Risk Assessment and, although it may seem fairly simple to conduct, the process can be extremely complex, meaning most people hire a professional to do it for them.
What happens if a company fails to undertake one?
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order is enforced by the Fire and Rescue Service and local authorities and failure to undertake a Risk Assessment can result in hefty fines and, in some circumstances, custodial sentences of up to two years.
From 2007 to 2008, for example, 3800 enforcement notices were issued and 42 prosecutions were made and in 2009 a high street fashion retailer was fined £250,000 for failing to supply a “suitable and sufficient” Risk Assessment for its premises and £150,000 for failing to adequately train staff.
Similarly, after a fire in The Manor Hotel in Blackpool took the life 39 year old Stephen Smith, fire safety investigators reported a catalogue of events which put people at risk of harm, including the Fire Risk Assessment being insufficient. Nicholas Danby, owner of the hotel, was handed a one year suspended sentence for his failings to conform to the Fire Safety Order.
Local Fire Rescue Authorities are actively reviewing Fire Risk Assessments and businesses caught failing to meet the necessary requirements are regularly being prosecuted – making it incredibly important to make sure yours is done to a high standard and always kept up-to-date.
Here at City Fire Protection , we are professionals within the fire safety industry and, as such, regularly perform high quality Fire Risk Assessments for a host of commercial and local authority properties throughout London and the wider area. In addition, as we also supply and install a huge range of fire safety equipment – including fire alarms, fire extinguishers and emergency lighting systems – we can also undertake any remedial action necessary, making the entire process incredibly simple, convenient and cost-effective.
So for more information on any of our fire safety products or services, get in touch with the specialists at City Fire today!