If you own or manage a commercial property, it is your duty as the designated ‘responsible person’ to ensure your environment fully complies with all safety regulations and legal guidelines. One of the main aspects of this is fire safety law, and it is crucial that all non-domestic buildings, including the common parts of multi-occupancy structures, ensure they completely adhere to it in order to protect their clients, visitors and members of the general public from the threat of fire as far as possible.
One of the main laws non-domestic buildings must comply with is the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, and a large part of this concerns the undertaking of a Fire Risk Assessment. Designed to aid risk reduction and, as a result, the prevention of fire, a Fire Risk Assessment aims to identify the specific risks and hazards within your environment and then put fire safety measures in place to eliminate or reduce these dangers as required. It also involves creating firm emergency plans, carefully considering people at risk within your environment and the safest, most efficient methods of evacuation.
There are 5 steps to carrying out a risk assessment, as recommended by the Communities and Local Government website, and these are:
#1 Identify the hazards
The first step of a Fire Risk Assessment involves analysing your environment and identifying any potential risks or fire hazards within it. In order to do this effectively, you must have a thorough understanding of fire ignition and how fires can start, and then put this knowledge into practice as you assess your own property and its contents.
There are two main things you must look for when identifying hazards: things that can start a fire (such as naked flames, heaters, electrical equipment, commercial processes, industrial machines)and things which burn and can accelerate the development of a fire (such as piles of waste, fabric and textiles, furniture, packaging).
#2 Identify people at risk
Fire is a threat to everyone present; however, there will be certain people within your environment who are at a higher risk due to their vulnerability or specific situation. During your Risk Assessment you must consider, analyse and make a note of the people you believe to be at the highest fire risk levels, so you can put safety measures in place accordingly.
For example, the particularly vulnerable might be children, elderly, the disabled or people unfamiliar with your property, such as visitors or customers. Other people at greater risk include employees who, because of where or when they work, are more prone to dangers. For example, evening staff, people who work with or near to fire risks or people who work on their own in secluded areas.
#3 Evaluate, remove or reduce the risks
Once you have identified the risks within your environment and established the threats they pose to inhabitants of the building, it is time to carefully evaluate your results. This involves going through and assessing each risk individually, analysing the best way to either completely remove or sufficiently reduce it.
For example, if your Risk Assessment has highlighted piles of waste as a possible source of ignition, put measures in place to ensure the waste is completely, and regularly, removed. Similarly, if you are in an office environment and technological equipment has been highlighted as a risk, make sure all your appliances are periodically PAT tested.
#4 Record everything, plan fire procedures and provide training
During this stage of your Fire Risk Assessment, you must carefully record everything you have analysed. You should detail the fire hazards within your environment and also the steps you have taken and the safety measures you have put in place to reduce or remove these risks.
It is then important to plan exactly what would happen in the event of a fire, including the safest and most efficient modes of evacuation. It is vital to practice this step with your staff, informing them of the plan in place and any fire safety equipment installed. It is also important to provide training for designated employees, such as Fire Warden Training and Basic Fire Training.
#5 Keep your assessment under constant review
Once your Fire Risk Assessment has been completed, it is vital that you review and update the results regularly. It is highly likely that risks and hazards within your environment may change over time, so it is important to update your fire safety plans accordingly.
A Fire Risk Assessment can be a complex, and at times, confusing task and the level of detail required means undertaking the review can take away a lot of your valuable work time, reducing your ability to spend time actually running your business. As such, it is recommended that you hire a professional, as not only are they trained and highly knowledgeable on all aspects of fire safety law, but they also completely understand the criteria required to completely fulfil the demands of a Risk Assessment, ensuring yours is undertaken to the most stringent standards.
Here at Elite Fire, as specialists within the fire safety industry, we can conduct high quality Risk Assessments at competitively low prices. Our dedicated team of experts can remove the burden from your hands and grant you complete peace of mind that your review has been completed to the most superior standards and is line with all legal requirements and contractual obligations. They can also conduct any remedial work necessary and perform installations of a huge range of fire safety equipment. Simply get in touch today for more information!