At UK-Fire Risk Assessments we provide fire risk assessment services the length and breadth of the UK. Many business-people are completely unaware that if they employ five people or more they are legally required to carry out a fire risk assessment of their premises and keep a written record of it. The fire risk assessment should also be reviewed “regularly”, but there is no definition of what “regularly” means. Most people would accept that it should be done once a year.
The reason that people may not be aware of the law is that in business today there is a whole complex of rules and regulations. If you start a business entirely on your own, which many people do, and it becomes successful, you are going to need to take on staff. So you take on one employee. Then another. And so on. It is very unlikely that you would think “Ah, I am now taking on my fifth employee so I must carry out a fire risk assessment”! It would probably never cross your mind, but nonetheless that is the law.
Not only should the risk assessment be carried out “regularly”, it should also be done whenever anything changes in the business. This could be something as simple as taking on a sixth employee, using new materials which could be flammable, changing the way your workshop is organised so that what was once a fire escape route is now blocked by a machine, putting up curtains to block light from a window, and a whole host of other alterations. Most businesses change things around fairly regularly but could be forgiven if the thought of this changing the fire risk doesn’t cross their minds.
To some extent this is understandable, because as a small growing business you probably didn’t know the law existed, and even if you did, it is not going to be the first thing on your mind when you move a filing cabinet around!
Nonetheless, that is the law and, unfortunately, ignorance of the law is not a defence. You can be required by the fire authorities to produce your written report and show it to them. If you don’t have one, you can be in trouble, even though you didn’t know the law.
Of course, on the other side of the equation, the law makes a lot of sense. Keeping your employees safe from fire is not only to be recommended, but you can see why the law was written.
The good news is that you don’t have to worry about any of this if you ask us at UK-Fire Risk Assessments to carry out your assessment. We know exactly what to look for, will make any necessary recommendations, AND provide you with a written report.