Fire safety risk assessments
Fire safety in the workplace is crucial. A fire at work could not only endanger the lives of you and your employees, but can also ruin buildings, contents and equipment, meaning your business suffers as well. You can reduce fire risks in the workplace by conducting thorough risks assessments and eliminating potential hazards. Below are some aspects of fire safety that you can consider when doing risk assessments.
Make sure you know who is responsible
You’re responsible for fire safety in business or other non-domestic premises if you’re:
- an employer
- the owner
- the landlord
- an occupier
- anyone else with control of the premises, for example a facilities manager, building manager, managing agent or risk assessor.
These people are known as the ‘responsible person’. It is their legal responsibility to ensure a Fire Risk Assessment is undertaken where a business has 5 or more employees and/or is a non domestic property. These assessments must be undertaken by a competent person who has been suitably trained. Fire safety rules are different in Scotland and Northern Ireland. You can find the Government’s full guidelines here. 
What do you have to do?
The person responsible for fire safety must carry out a fire safety risk assessment and keep it up to date. These checks can be done as part of an overall risk assessment or as a separate exercise. The results of an assessment need to be communicated to those who are affected by it.
The main steps to fire safety are:
- identifying the fire hazards
- identifying people at risk
- evaluating, removing or reducing the risks
- recording findings, preparing an emergency plan and providing training
- reviewing and updating the fire risk assessment regularly.
To help prevent fire in the workplace, your risk assessment should identify what could cause a fire to start and the people who may be at risk. Your risk assessment should also identify dangerous substances that can result in fires or explosions.
Remember to think of:
- emergency routes and exits
- fire detection and warning systems
- fire fighting equipment
- the removal or safe storage of dangerous substances
- an emergency fire evacuation plan
- the needs of vulnerable people, for example the elderly, young children or those with disabilities
- providing information to employees and other people on the premises
- staff fire safety training
- review and update your risk assessment regularly.
Everyone hopes that events such as fires never happen, but one of the main things you can do to safeguard your business is by making sure you have appropriate insurance cover in place.