Fire Risk Assessments: Your Legal Requirements as a Business Owner
In a bid to ensure optimal fire safety at work, a fire risk assessment must be carried out for every organisation. Fire risk assessments are hugely important, and work to achieve three distinct things:
- Inform you of how likely it is that a fire will occur
- Help you understand the best ways to reduce your risk
- Highlight ways to protect yourself, your business, and your people
But as a business owner, what are your legal requirements when it comes to an FRA?
Understanding your role
The first step towards operating compliantly is to understand exactly what your role is in the fire risk assessment process. Legally, it is the duty of the ‘responsible person’ to ensure an FRA has been undertaken. You are considered to be the ‘responsible person’ if you meet any of the following:
- You run the business
- You are in charge of a family-run business
- You are self-employed
As the responsible person, you must take action to make sure a fire risk assessment is undertaken. It is not, however, a legal requirement to carry out this task yourself. In fact, many businesses prefer to outsource this duty to a professional, for peace of mind that it’s being undertaken in the best way.
However, you can carry out an FRA yourself if you wish. The only legal requirement to doing so is that you conduct the assessment by following the 5 core steps outlined by the UK Government:
Step 1: Locate hazards
Understanding what risks exist within your business, and where/how a fire is most likely to break out. Knowing this can help you focus your prevention efforts in the right areas, and in the best way.
Step 2: Know who’s at risk
Consider who is most likely to be affected by a fire, such as those working in close proximity to ignition sources. This can help to ensure you’re investing in fire training for the most suitable people.
Step 3: Consider how to reduce risk
This involves assessing your fire protection and detection systems. You may need to incorporate more equipment, such as alarms, sprinkler systems or dry & wet risers, depending on level of risk.
Step 4: Record outcomes
It’s always recommended that businesses record their findings in writing. If you employ 5 or more people, it’s a legal requirement to do so. Make sure your FRA is kept in an accessible location.
Step 5: Review & adapt
Hazards, risks, and employees change all the time. Fire risk assessments should be reviewed regularly – particularly after any changes – and adapted to ensure they continue to provide value.
The cost of non-compliance
When things are busy at work, it’s so easy to push your fire risk assessment to one side and put it off until a later date. After all, fires are uncommon. And really, what’s the worst that could happen?
In fact, if you don’t meet your legal requirements as a business owner to conduct a fire risk assessment and keep it up to date, there can be a number of consequences. Firstly, if a fire does break out, and you don’t have an appropriate plan in place to tackle it, you risk destroying lives and livelihoods.
Secondly, if you’re found not to have a fire risk assessment when you should have one, you could be hit with a fine – or imprisoned. The UK fire service is responsible for checking that businesses are following the rules. In most cases, they’ll make an appointment in advance to visit your premises. However, they can simply turn up unannounced. Don’t get caught out. Always be prepared.
Help & advice from Eversafe
At Eversafe, we’re here to help you protect your people, and your business. Keep an eye on our blog for helpful advice and guidance covering all aspects of fire safety at work. And for more information about fire protection systems, get in touch with our team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.