29 August 2014
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Fire risk assessment

A fire risk assessment is carried out on non domestic premises where business activity is conducted. An assessment can be done on commercial business office blocks and also residential flats or maisonettes where people live. Its main function is to assist an employer in identifying any potential fire risks to a buildings occupants and its employees.

After The Regulatory Reform or Fire Safety Order was introduced it has become a requirement of all employers to demonstrate that they have taken suitable and sufficient fire risk precautions in their workplace.

These risk assessments should only be carried out by those staff who have had the relevant fire training.

Fire risk assessment form
Normally there is what is called a fire risk assessment form that needs to be filled in by a safety manager or a designated responsible person with their findings. This form will have sections in there to be filled in, it will require you to go around your workplace and identify what you think are potential fires hazards. You should identify the potential causes of ignition, fuel and oxygen and note them down. Other points you should note on the form are which specific workers are most at risk and why. You should have a space on the form to make notes on how to evaluate and then reduce the risk. The form should then be signed and dated by the person who carries it out.

Listed below are steps you acting as a fire safety consultant should take when writing up a fire risk assessment:

Identify hazards
First you must walk around the workplace and look to identify all of the fire hazards. Look for circumstances that could increase the risk of a accident occurring. For instance look for anything that could cause a ignition, like a naked flame, also look for items which could be a source of fuel like a methylated spirits or petrol. If both of these items are close together then it can significantly increase the risk of a blaze breaking out.

Analyze the situation and pinpoint those staff at greatest risk
Look at the layout of the workplace and decide on those staff you think will be at greatest risk. Base this on how fast you believe a fire will spread, who will be affected by the toxic smoke from it. Can this for instance include any visitors to the premises.

Decide on fire safety precautions
Now that you have identified possible causes of any outbreaks, as well as those most at risk, the next step is to decide how to reduce the risk and what precautions to introduce. You need to list practical control measures that can be introduced into the workplace to reduce the risk to a acceptable an minimal level. For instance you should decide on the best means of escape, or ensuring fire fighting equipment is in place ready to use, or ensure that the sprinkler system is installed. Bear in mind that what I have listed here is not a exhaustive list of precautions you could take.

Create a report of your findings
Write up a detailed report for your managers to show them what you have discovered and what you are suggesting and your recommendations. List a plan of action as well, for instance more fire safety training for employees.

Constantly review your fire risk assessment
As this is a continuous process that constantly has to be changed, it is important to note future dates where you should review your findings and report. This could be for a number of reasons, for instance new equipment may have been introduced to your workplace or the entire building layout may have changed.


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