No matter the workplace, fire safety is vital. Fire safety measures assure that in the event of a fire, injuries to employees and damage to property is minimal or avoided completely.
Employers are responsible for fire safety. Failure to address or consider fire risks are naturally dangerous. There is the risk of drastic damages, including loss of life and severe damage to company property.
What is a fire risk assessment?
Fire safety risk assessments need to take into account fire and explosion hazards. The Safety, Health & Welfare at Work Act 2005 covers this. These include fire risk assessment regulations. They state that employers must identify hazards, assess risks and have a written risk assessment.
In the event of a fire and it becomes clear there have been no steps taken for fire safety, the employer risks large fines and potential jail time.
As with virtually any aspect of health & safety legislation, breaches are criminal offences. This applies to senior figures within a company, such as directors and senior management, as individuals as well.
However, legally speaking, there are other penalties to not conducting a comprehensive fire risk assessment.
For example, penalties for these individuals include criminal convictions. These include fines of up to €3 million per charge and two years’ imprisonment.
No matter how one views it, it is essential to conduct thorough fire risk assessments.
How to do a first risk assessment
Employers must appoint a ‘responsible person’ for fire safety. This person must manage any fire risk on your premises. To do this, they need to carry out a fire risk assessment.
Employers must follow fire safety requirements. The Safety, Health & Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007 states the fire safety requirements required. The Workplace Chapter details these further.
A completed fire risk assessment should contain:
- Identified hazards: these include anything that can start a fire, anything that can burn in a fire, and sources of ignition.
- Identified employees at risk: these include people who work close to or with fire hazards. Other employees to assess are people who work alone, those working in isolated areas.
- Identified escape routes: you should never keep fire escapes locked. You should also keep the paths to these fire escapes clear.
- Regular maintenance: this includes simple steps like good housekeeping. Ensuring that fire escapes are clear, and that flammable objects are properly stored.
- Precautions reducing risks: these should include measures to remove identified fire hazards or solutions to address them. For example, keeping flammable materials away from areas that are at a higher risk of a fire breaking out.
- Consistent fire safety training: ensure that employees routinely understand your company’s procedures. These should include regular fire drills.
- Review processes: this should include recording any risks and changes made due to risks. It also includes a plan as to when the next fire risk assessment will occur.
How often should a fire risk assessment be carried out?
You should carry out a fire risk assessment once every 12 months. While legislation doesn't specify the requirement for any set assessments, they do state specifications for non-domestic premises.
These specify that non-domestic properties need to carry out fire risk assessments regularly and that there must be a written record of it.
Fire risk assessment costs
Without considering training, fire risk assessment costs are relatively low. They often include a few hours of the employee responsible for fire risk assessments conducting the assessment.
However, without appropriate fire risk assessment training, an in-house fire warden may miss essential checks or fail to properly review the assessments. This is why third-party fire risk assessors are often useful. Though they can vary in costs.
Fire risk assessment examples
As is the case with health and safety assessments, fire risk assessments require training as to what counts as risks and what changes these risks call for.
Fire safety assessments are often part of health and safety risk assessments. However, you may wish to conduct specific fire safety assessments to focus on their risks. You may wish to do so if your workplace requires both fire and explosion risk assessments.
Examples of specific assessments are as follows:
- General fire risks: assessments should inspect fire safety equipment, such as fire extinguishers and fire blankets. It is worth checking if they are still in date, which may indicate if they are still useable.
- Office fire risk assessments: offices usually require standard fire safety assessments. These include ensuring you install smoke alarms and fire alarms and keeping paths to fire escape doors clear. You should also ensure training courses are regularly conducted for employees to understand fire risks.
- Explosion risk assessments: workplaces that handle volatile or hazardous substances, as well as dangerous chemicals require explosion risk assessments. Ensure there are proper procedures for storing and handling these risks. This includes training for employees to understand how to handle themselves in the event of fires or explosions, potential or occurring
Fire risk assessment qualifications
Proper training with fire safety is essential. Employers seeking a fire risk assessment certificate can get in touch with Peninsula about health & safety training. Our training also includes sending representatives to conduct these assessments.
Peninsula also provides 24-hour health & safety advice. This service helps identify fire safety risks, along with any other health & safety concerns.
To contact our team of specialists, call 0818 923 923