If you own any sort of business which either employs people or receives visitors, whether they are customers or not, the law requires that you undertake a fire safety assessment and repeat it periodically. To be on the safe side, you should do this every year. You are also required to keep a written report of your assessment.
Furthermore, you must undertake a new fire risk assessment when anything in your business changes that could alter the risk in any way. This could be almost anything, such as the installation of a new machine, taking on a new employee, altering the office layout and thereby changing the escape routes, bringing combustible materials on to the premises, new technology or work practices, young persons, changing the roles or responsibilities of employees – the list goes on. You also have to allow for the fact that you might have visitors who are disabled and allow for that in your emergency plan measures.
When you carry out a review of your fire risk assessment you have to consider what changes have occurred since the last one. Have sources of ignition increased or decreased? You have to undertake control measures such as avoiding naked flames where possible, keeping combustible materials and sources of ignition separate, having electrical PAT testing up to date, keeping cooling vents on electrical equipment free from obstruction, enforcing your no-smoking policy, replacing old or worn wiring, ensuring appliances have the correct fuses, and you must make any visiting contractors aware of your fire safety policy.
Next, you have to consider your fire-fighting equipment. Are extinguishers visible and in working order? Have you got staff trained to use them, or have those staff left and you may need to train others? What is your fire alarm linked to – dampers, smoke control, a call centre – and do they all work? Can everyone hear the fire alarm? Are your fire routine notices visible and legible, and do you need more of them? Your fire safety equipment must be tested and serviced by a competent person and you must keep records of such servicing and testing.
As you can see, there is a lot to consider, and the above is by no means an exhaustive list. Article 9 of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 states: The responsible person must make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to which relevant persons are exposed for the purpose of identifying the general fire precautions he needs to take to comply with the requirements and prohibitions imposed upon him by or under this Order. Failure to comply with this legal requirement could mean you have broken the law.
All this, and you have a business to run as well!
The simplest way to undertake all these requirements is to let our experts at UK-Fire Risk Assessments do it for you. We know what to look for and will provide a written report with our recommendations.