Fire Risk Assessments | A Quick Checklist in 5 Essential Steps
Ensuring your premises has up-to-date Fire Risk Assessments could well be the most crucial step you take when it comes to protecting the people and premises you are responsible for. What’s more, if you are within non-domestic premises, the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 requires that a regular assessment takes place.
For small, simple premises, the duty holder may be able to carry out the Fire Risk Assessment themselves if they are competent to do so. However, in the case of larger, more complex or high risk premises, the task might well be beyond the ability of the duty holder and they should hire an external competent Consultant to carry out the Risk Assessment.
We are all pressured for time, and often undertaking Fire Risk Assessments can fall by the wayside. It is always better to be proactive than reactive when it comes to safety, so by following this 5 step Fire Risk Assessment you will work towards ensuring your workplace is fire safe.
Fire Risk Assessment Checklist
Step 1: Identify Hazards
Step back and look around you. Survey your site for potential fire hazards. You can break this down into (a) sources of ignition and (b) sources of fuel and (c) sources of oxygen.
- First, look at the electrics, heaters and lighting. Remember to be thorough: think about electrical fittings, ovens, cooking equipment, even sources of electrostatic discharge, such as flooring and chairs.
- Next, look for where combustible materials are. Common examples include piles of office paper, cardboard boxes or wooden pallets. Don’t forget highly flammable liquids such as thinners and solvents.
Step 2: Identify Persons at Risk
Considering the people involved is a critical component of effective Fire Risk Assessments. If there was a fire, everyone in the building is at risk, however, some people may be at more risk than others and this needs to be taken into account when carrying out an assessment. Ask yourself the following questions:
- 1. Are there any people with mobility issues or disabilities?
- 2. Sleeping occupants?
- 3. Young persons?
- 4. Whereabouts are they situated?
- 5. Are there any people who undertake more high-risk activities?
- 6. Occupants whose first language is not English?
In larger organisations, understanding the needs of all staff can be difficult, so ask HR for some help. If your HR department struggle with providing the information you need, we are currently offering a free month of HR advice.
Step 3: Assess, Remove and Reduce Risks
First, assess risks. Look at the information gathered in Steps 1 and Step 2 and decide if the existing control measures are adequate.
Second, remove or reduce risks. Some ways of doing this include:
- Separate ignition sources from combustibles.
- Improve security.
- Remove or improve storage of highly flammable materials.
- Replace temporary heaters with permanent fixed ones.
- Regularly remove refuse and packing materials.
- Provide automatic fire detection.
- Provide emergency escape lighting (in some circumstances provision of a torch may be suitable).
- Test and maintain all fire safety equipment (i.e. fire alarm, emergency lighting and fire extinguishers).
- Arrange electrical testing of appliances.
Step 4: Record and Educate
Keeping an accurate record of everything you have discovered in your assessment will help you reliably inform and educate others around you. These records should be:
- Accessible – to anyone who wants to read them
- Appropriate – written in simple, straightforward language; and
- Actionable – routes of action should a fire occur should have clear instructions
Also you must provide Fire Safety training to workers. This includes ensuring workers are aware of the fire evacuation procedure. To ensure they are, rehearse the process with a fire drill every 6 months.
Step 5: Review and Update Risk Assessment
Very few workplaces remain static. Staff will come and go, premises will change, processes will develop and needs emerge. A Fire Risk Assessment is an ongoing cycle of continuous improvement.
Plan a time each month to do a walkaround, paying attention to any new potential threats to workplace safety. Then update your Fire Risk Assessment with all of this new information, and share with the relevant staff members.