Risk assessments are a vital part of any organisation or workplace's health and safety procedure. Fire risk assessments are perhaps the most important, considering the detrimental effects which could arise if fire risks are not appropriately handled within the workplace. Risk assessments will identify what potential fire risks there are within a given workplace, and subsequently decide the necessary control measures which need to be implemented in order to protect each individual from these hazards. Therefore, fire risk assessments are of the utmost importance if you want to protect all individuals involved with your workplace.
Who is responsible for conducting fire risk assessments?
It is your responsibility to ensure that a fire risk assessment has been carried out, if you are any of the following:
- An Employer.
- The landlord of a property.
- The owner of a property or business.
- If you have control of a workplace or particular premises, such as a building manager or a managing agent.
The health and safety responsibilities of the above people include conducting the risk assessment appropriately and ensuring that this risk assessment is reviewed regularly, especially whenever any new employees start or anything changes within the workplace. This risk assessment needs to be communicated to all individuals involved with the given environment. The control measures put into place need to be tested regularly to ensure that they can protect individuals from fire effectively.
Should the control measures fail, you need to have a plan of emergency for fire related incidents. Because fire is such a detrimental force, this emergency plan needs to be communicated and practiced regularly to ensure every single individual is aware of what the plan of emergency is. Therefore, because this risk assessment is tailored specifically towards fire, employees and everyone involved must be given fire safety training. This training can be conducted by the management team, to ensure that everyone is aware of the dangers of fire and the procedures taken if a fire does take place.
How is a fire risk assessment enforced?
Fire risk assessments will be enforced and checked upon by the relevant authorities in the area. These fire safety officers will ensure that your fire risk assessment has been carried out appropriately and has therefore enforced the relevant control measures needed to protect individuals against fire hazards.
If the relevant authorities deem an organisation's fire risk assessment inadequate, this will instigate the notice process.
First, the organisation which has not met the fire risk assessment standards will be issued with an informal notice which offers suggestions for better control measures to implement.
Following this, the authorities will issue a formal fire safety notice, which will demand that the risk assessment is fixed and state the ways for this to be done. If an informal and formal fire safety notice do not encourage an organisation to re-assess and improve their fire risk assessment, then penalties will be issued.
What are the penalties for not enforcing a fire risk assessment?
The first penalty which will be issued in relation to an inefficient fire risk assessment will be an enforcement notice. An enforcement notice will be issued if the authorities find that there is a serious fire risk which has not been dealt with by the employer. Following an enforcement notice the organisation will be told how they can deal with this certain risk and the time which the organisation has to conduct this by.
A prohibition notice will be used if the authorities find that the risk of the fire is so severe and has not been dealt with appropriately at all, then this notice will automatically prevent access to this building. Prohibition notices take effect straight away as it is considered a problem of the utmost importance.
If you do not abide by fire risk assessment standards you can ultimately face a fine or imprisonment. Penalties can reach unlimited fines and up to two years in prison, so the decision is taken seriously.
There is the opportunity to appeal with penalty or notice you have been issued by the local fire authority responsible for your area. To appeal these notices, you must contact the local magistrates' court within 21 days.
Evidently, fire is a serious problem, and therefore all organisations and responsible persons must ensure that they fulfil their health and safety responsibilities to protect employees against fire. If not, the consequences can be disastrous for all that are involved. Therefore, knowledge and training is extremely important.