Running a business in the 21st century is far more complicated than it was 50 years ago, and this is largely due to the plethora of legal requirements that simply did not exist back then. Above all, as a business owner, you are required to look after the safety of your employees, and as one aspect of that you are required by law to carry out a fire risk assessment of your premises and prepare an emergency plan for escape in the event that a fire does break out. Furthermore, if you employ five or more people you also have to keep a written record of your assessment and the actions that you have taken as result.
Of course, keeping your employees and any visitors safe from fire is a logical and necessary thing for any employer to do, but the problem that most employers have is that they simply don’t understand all the risks that there can be in their workplace. That is not because they are dim, but simply because they have not had any training in this area, and that means that if undertaking the assessment themselves it would be easy to miss things that are obvious to the trained eye.
As with many of these things, the buck stops with you if you are what is described as the “responsible person”, and that is you if you are the building owner or landlord, an employer, an occupier, or anyone else with control of the premises such as building manager or managing agent.
The law applies to all non-domestic premises, and these are defined as follows:
- all workplaces and commercial premises
- all premises the public have access to
- the common areas of multi-occupied residential buildings
In other words, pretty much everything except a private home. It can even apply to open air premises such as a zoo or boatyard. It can also get complicated in shared premises because you might have an office in a building where there are a dozen other businesses, in which case you have to work together when carrying out a fire assessment. Worse still, the government website warns that you can be fined or go to prison if you do not follow fire safety regulations, and prison sentences have been handed down in some cases.
Many Things To Take Into Consideration
There are lots of things to take into consideration when carrying out a fire risk assessment. For instance, do you use flammable materials in your business? If so, these need to be stored safely and away from any possible sources of ignition. You need to make certain that you have emergency routes and exits in the case of fire, and you also have to have a fire detection and warning system in place. On top of that you also need to have suitable fire fighting equipment, and this can vary depending upon the type of business that you are and the materials that you use.
You need to have an emergency fire evacuation plan in place and provide information to your employees and other people on the premises. You also have to undertake employee training so that everyone knows what to do in the event of a fire breaking out.
Another thing that your fire risk assessment needs to take into consideration is the needs of people who are vulnerable such as the elderly, young children, or people with disabilities who may be on your premises if they are open to the public, or other visitors such as salesmen, engineers, your accountant, and so on.
On the government website there is a list of guides that you can download according to the type of premises that you operate, and this includes things such as animal premises and stables, offices and shops, factories and warehouses, places of assembly, theatres and cinemas, open air events and venues, sleeping accommodation, educational premises, and more.
Fortunately for most business owners, the law does allow you to appoint a “competent person” to deal with all this for you, and that is why many people choose to use our services at UK-Fire Risk Assessments. By doing this you will know that you are compliant with the law, and you will also have the written record which we provide and which you are obliged to keep.