When you own and run a business in the UK today, there are far more rules and regulations than there were even 30 or 40 years ago. Many of them are the result of the expansion of the health and safety “industry”, and while they are there for good reasons, they can certainly make the life of an average businessman more complicated. Nobody would deny that health and safety in the workplace are something that needs to be taken seriously, but at the same time they can take up a considerable amount of time and may also require knowledge that is beyond that of the average businessman.
Take fire risk, for instance. Certainly, fire is an ever-present risk, and it can kill. And nobody in their right mind would have a gallon can of petrol standing in a restaurant kitchen. That is pretty obvious. The problems start when you look at the regulations and realise that as a business owner you have a legal obligation to undertake a fire risk assessment of your business premises.
That is correct. It is the law. Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Act 2005 you must take a fire risk assessment of your business – all of it – and if you have five or more employees you also have to keep a written copy of it and of any alterations and strategies that you have undertaken as a result of the said assessment.
All of which is perhaps not too bad if you have training in fire risk assessments and know what to look for in your business. But if you are an electrical engineer or an accountant, or a pharmacist, or a chef, or own a gym, do you really know what to look out for? In all probability, the answer is that you don’t. And yet the law requires you to do this! You are the “responsible person” and as such you not only have to undertake a fire risk assessment, but you must advise your employees about any risks you have identified, put in place and maintain appropriate fire safety measures, provide your employees with fire safety instruction and training, and plan for an emergency. This also applies if you run a guesthouse or let a self-catering property.
It can get more complicated, too, because there may be more than one “responsible person”. For instance, if you have an office in a building where there are a dozen different companies also with offices, you could have a dozen different “responsible persons”, in which case you all need to work together to co-ordinate your fire safety plans.
There is even worse news, and that is that if you fail to follow the law you could be subject to unlimited fines and/or go to prison!
Do you know what type of fire extinguishers you should be using on your premises and where they should be located? Should you have a fire alarm system, and if so what type? Do people come on to your premises, such as members of the public, if you are a shop owner, or visiting salesmen, for instance? Have you allowed for the fact that there may be disabled or elderly people in your store? How do you get them down from the third floor and out of the building if a fire breaks out?
The more you stop to think about all this, the more complicated it can seem. However, there is some bright news over the horizon and that is that if all this is beyond you, which it probably is, you can hire a “competent person” to do it all for you. In other words, hire a fire risk assessor in the UK.
This is what we do at UK-Fire Risk Assessments. We are a team of fully trained fire risk assessors who can carry out your fire risk assessment for you and provide you with the written report that you are obliged to keep. We will advise you of our findings on your premises and anything that you need to do to become compliant if you are not already.
So, you might need to add some fire extinguishers, install a fire door, plan a different route of escape in case of fire, keep flammable products somewhere different, and more. Using our services for your fire risk assessment will make certain that you get it right and know what steps, if any, you need to take.