Learn all about fire risk assessment, why conduct this, how to carry this out, and who are the individuals competent for the task.
Published 14 Mar 2023
Fire risk assessment is an essential element of fire safety management in the workplace. This aims to identify potential fire hazards and the people who may be affected, evaluate the risks associated with the perceived hazard, and implement measures to eliminate or, at the very least, reduce those risks.
According to the US National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), fire departments responded to emergencies every 23 seconds in 2021. Fatal injuries happen every two hours, nonfatal injuries occur every 36 minutes, and property damage cost over $15 billion. The statistics are also alarming in Australia where many workers cannot operate a fire extinguisher. In the UK, there is a 16% increase in fire incidents in 2022 compared to the previous year.
All these facts point to one thing: fire safety assessment is vital.
Emergencies like a fire breaking out happen when least expected. The only way to successfully deal with this is to be ready. A critical part of the preparation is fire risk assessment. Here are specific reasons for doing it as soon as possible:
Fire risk assessment is a systematic process that involves several steps. Although this takes a considerable amount of company time and resources, meticulously going through each step is necessary because this is a matter of life and death.
Fire hazard assessment is a key component of the process. This identifies the possible source of the fire and the type of fire it can create.
This is a crucial step because it allows managers to provide their employees with the appropriate protective equipment and, more importantly, adequate safety training. Aside from the individuals who are directly involved in the activity, the people around them should also be protected from risks.
This step involves checking the safety measures put in place and ensuring that these are effective in current circumstances and in compliance with regulations. Here are some factors evaluated:
In this part of the process, evaluators specifically consider the likelihood of a fire breaking out and the extent of damage it could create based on the assessment. These are some factors checked:
Assessors also consider how fires could start so that they can provide additional measures for prevention:
Eliminate manual tasks and streamline your operations.
The final step in fire risk assessment is documentation. Record keeping upholds current best practices and allows companies to work on possible amendments to fire safety procedures. Improvements include the following:
According to legal guidelines, “competent people” should conduct a fire risk assessment. There is no specific definition provided, but many agree that this means highly knowledgeable in the subject and duly accredited by regulatory offices.
Small to medium enterprises often employ the services of fire safety professionals from their local fire department or health and safety services office. Larger companies usually have a team in place.
It doesn’t matter who is charged to carry out this job as long as they are trained and certified. They should also strictly follow the process so they don’t miss anything that could potentially cause a fire emergency in the future.
The guidelines consider the location and the age of a particular structure. Here is an example in the UK:
There is no specific period set in some countries as long as it is conducted regularly. It would still be best to check local policies for this.
Yes, this is a legal requirement if your address is not a single private dwelling. In addition, companies that employ five or more people should have a written record of their fire risk assessment.
Building owners are considered the “responsible person.” If a particular building houses different businesses, the owners of each company are mandated by law to conduct their fire risk assessment.
Fires are much too dangerous, and any preventive measure should not be taken lightly. If the law is not followed, the “responsible person” may be prosecuted, resulting in hefty fines or prison sentences.
Fires are one of the worst disasters. But unlike earthquakes and tsunamis, this can be prevented. By conducting a proper fire risk assessment and going through each step meticulously, you and your employees are well-equipped for this type of emergency. And if you’re looking for a competent partner to work with you, let it be SafetyCulture (formerly iAuditor):
Eunice Arcilla Caburao
Eunice is a content contributor for SafetyCulture. A registered nurse, theater stage manager, Ultimate Frisbee athlete, and mother, Eunice has written a multitude of topics for over a decade now.
The ATEX directive regulates the products used in such locations and the best practices for working ...
Emergency Preparedness vs. Emergency Response: What’s the Difference? Emergency preparedness ...
Safety leadership also involves providing training and resources to employees so they can work ...