The Importance of a Fire Risk Assessment for your Business

Sensible fire safety isn’t just a good idea for the well-being of yourself and your employees; it’s also a legal requirement.

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order states that the duty holder for most premises should undertake a fire risk assessment. But why is a fire risk assessment so important?

Why is a Fire Risk Assessment important?

The importance of a fire risk assessment for your business cannot be over-emphasised.

If your premises was unfortunate enough to experience a fire, it would be damaging not only to the building, but could endanger the lives of employees (and their livelihoods) and visitors to the site.

These days, the simple addition of fire alarm systems or fire extinguishers is not always enough to guarantee a safe working environment.

Fire risk assessment and fire safety training are also essential in order to safeguard the future of your premises and ensure that it is protected as much as possible.

Who needs a Fire Risk Assessment?

If you employ 5 or more employees, you are required to conduct a fire risk assessment and keep a written record.

If you have fewer than 5 employees, you are not required to keep a written record of the assessment, though it is still strongly advisable to do so.

The Responsible Person of a premises or business (e.g. the landlord, owner, employer, self-employed individuals) should take responsibility for arranging the completion of a fire risk assessment.  Note, there may be more than one Responsible Person for a premises.

Who can conduct a Fire Risk Assessment?

Technically anyone who is “competent” to do so, but it is highly recommended that someone with experience, training and the requisite skill (and understanding of people’s behaviour in fire situations).  For simple buildings this may be undertaken by a technically competent person within your organisation, however, more complex structures may require the skills of an external specialist in order to get the most comprehensive and “suitable and sufficient” assessment.

What does a Fire Risk Assessment involve?

  • Evaluating building age, condition and layout
  • Identifying risks such as possible sources of ignition and any flammable materials
  • Recording any current fire safety equipment/arrangements such as fire extinguishers, fire alarm systems, emergency lighting, staff training and escape routes
  • Evaluation of any current fire safety training and drills
  • An action plan should be produced from the assessment, highlighting areas that need attention and recommending any improvements to current fire safety measures

How long does a Fire Risk Assessment last?

Indefinitely, although it is advisable to have your fire risk assessment report reviewed regularly.

A simple review annually will suffice, although you should consider another assessment if you’ve made any changes to your building or workplace.

For example:

  • Altered the layout
  • Brought new processes or materials in
  • Changed the number of staff.

The document will prove invaluable in helping you and your trained staff maintain awareness of the premises and the potential risks to it from fire.

If you would like more information or help with your fire risk assessment, contact your C&C Advisor to ensure you comply with this legal obligation.