Fire safety in the workplace, or any commercial building, begins with a fire risk assessment. Also known as the ‘responsible person’, you’re accountable for fire safety and protection of property and people if you’re an employer, owner, landlord, occupier or in control of the premises.

What is a fire risk assessment?

Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, it’s the legal duty of the responsible person to take reasonable steps to reduce the risk of fire and ensure people can safely escape the building in the event of a fire. Your first action must be to carry out a fire risk assessment of the premises. This detailed review involves a physical inspection of the building to assess the competency of existing fire precautions and whether any additional measures are required.

A fire risk assessment must be carried out by the responsible person or another person they deem competent and should take into consideration everyone who might be on the premises at the time of a fire. The fire risk assessment must be written down if your business has five or more regular occupants in the building. However, it’s always recommended the findings are written down no matter how many employees you have – for communication purposes and to ensure required actions are clear and carried out.

The risks of not complying

Your local fire and rescue authority is responsible for enforcing fire safety legalisation. It will visit your premises to check the fire risk assessment and ensure all appropriate fire prevention measures are in place. However, the authority can take action if you’re not compliant with legislation or have inadequate fire safety measures. An informal notice suggesting improvements is usually the first step. For more serious breaches where there’s deemed to be risk to life, the fire authority can issue a notice restricting use of part or all of the building.

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