Fire risk assessment is a critically important health and safety task which most businesses can tackle with speed and efficiency if they have the right information and software. The fire risk assessment software, part of Peninsula's Fire Risk Management Pack, available from Peninsula’s online resource centre can help you manage fire risk assessment in two ways. Firstly, after the user has considered fire hazards and risks at their premises and completed the simple fire safety checklist (figure 1), the advanced BusinessSafe Online software will automatically compile details of fire risks that are not under control. These risks are presented to the Responsible Person in a user-friendly format on the Significant Findings screen (figure 2). The second way in which the software can help you to manage fire risks is that it allows the Responsible Person to identify the corrective actions needed and assigns the actions required to any number of staff – thus spreading the workload. Target dates can be set for each action allocated and our software will automatically enter these into the diaries of the people allocated to each of the tasks. The Responsible Person will be able to use this function to monitor progress and ensure that this work is not forgotten or neglected. When the assessment is completed, the checklists and significant findings will be stored in the system. Hard copy can be viewed or printed at any time it is needed, for example, for presentation to a fire inspector or an insurance company. Instant access to historic and up to date data will demonstrate your commitment to the effective management of fire hazards and risks. Fire risk assessments need regular review. You can use the calendar to prompt periodic reminders. The Responsible Person will be able to use a simple set of review questions to determine whether the existing assessment remains current or needs comprehensive review. This is a quick and easy way to manage your fire risk assessment, and ensure your employees and others are not at risk from fire hazards. Remember, if you do not effectively manage fire safety you could fail a fire service inspection, or much worse. Don't leave anything to chance. The employer's duties Health and safety legislation in employers law is clear: the employer is bound by law to protect all employees and other people visiting the workplace, and this refers to fires too. Action must be taken before, during and after any fire:
- Before: Preventing a fire or explosion from ever happening is of course the key aim. Carrying out the fire risk assessment, ensuring the safe storage and handling of any flammable or explosive materials, and maintaining a fire management plan are the first steps towards this.
- During: Having fire escapes, alarms and a clear exit strategy is a legal requirement, while a well-designed building could slow the spread of a fire. Meanwhile, keeping the appropriate fire safety equipment in the workplace, as well as training employees on how to use it, could save lives.
- After: If the worst should happen, it is crucial that employers address the root of the problem. What could have been done? What can we learn? At this stage, employers must prove they did all they could in the first place to prevent a fire – including an up-to-date fire risk assessment. These details can be fundamental to the outcome of a health and safety tribunal, or your insurance claim, and therefore whether you'll ever be open for business again.