Yes, it is a legal requirement to have a fire risk assessment, or FRA in the United Kingdom, as described under the Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order 2005. This is the law for England and Wales. In Scotland, the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 protects people.
Other UK laws like the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmosphere Regulations 2002 (DSEAR) require an assessment of risk as well.
Therefore, all organisations must have appropriate fire health and safety laws, and a respective assessment. This is a serious issue, and it can threaten lives. Ultimately, the principle responsibility for ensuring effective fire regulations lies with the employer. Of course, employees are involved, but they merely carry-out the policies in place.
Assessing risks serves to identify threats, evaluate them, control them and inform future policies.
Fire Risk Assessment Legal Duties
Under the Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order 2005, employers must perform an FRA. The order applies to nearly all sizes and types of organisation.
According to UK government guidelines, “article 9 of the Order requires the responsible person to carry out a “suitable and sufficient” assessment of the risks”. To qualify as such under the order, there are 5 steps to a risk assessment that need to be fulfilled. These are:
- Identifying risks
- Identifying who is at risk, and especially vulnerable groups
- Evaluate the threats
- Record findings, plan a course of action, and train employees
- Constantly review existing policies, and monitor for new dangers
Organisations must carry-out all steps to be compliant with fire regulations and health and safety laws. To qualify, policies must be proportionate to the threat at hand. Duties can be hired-out to a third party, but the business is ultimately responsible.
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), businesses should identify “what could cause a fire to start, i.e. sources of ignition (heat or sparks)”. In addition, they should provide extra fire protection for the elderly or disabled.
Additional risk assessing duties include controlling substances hazardous to health and regularly updating the policy. Dangerous COSHH items tend to be highly flammable and need further protection. Assessments need to be updated whenever there is a fire, or when work circumstances change. If they don’t, policies should be reviewed every 2 years, and redone every 4. However, frequency depends on how big the building is, and how many people work there.
Don’t forget, assessments do not only apply to employees. All people affected an organisation’s operations, like a visiting group of schoolchildren, need to be protected.
Why Is Doing a Fire Risk Assessment Important?
Firstly, FRAs are written into law, meaning organisations can suffer financial penalties if they fail to do one. This is important because no business wants to pay-out thousands of pounds for workplace injuries and legal cases. Responsible individuals may face a maximum prison sentences of two years. In addition, unlimited fines may apply in very serious cases. Assessments can be randomly inspected, so being prepared at all times is a must.
A second reason why its important to do an FRA, is employees are happier and safer. Meaning, they will never have to focus on anything other than their job. As a result, productivity increases, and everyone is happy.
In sum, an FRA is a crucial part of all workplace health and safety policies. An assessment prepares employees for emergencies, by providing training. Training will promote good practice and inform staff about things like evacuation procedure. Although they cost money, it is worth every penny when people are safe.
For more information, you can view our online fire safety risk assessment training course. Fire risk assessment templates are provided free-of-charge.