A guide to fire risk assessments

As a business owner, your main priority is to show a profit and minimise expenses. However, these are not the only important considerations and elements of running an establishment. Factors like safety are just as important (if not more important) as seeing your business grow from strength to strength, which is why fire risk assessments for a growing company are such a necessity. And not only can it protect your business, but it’s a precaution that can save lives.

The fact is that most fires don’t occur by accident. Instead, human error typically sits behind the cause of a fire, and it’s mainly because fire sources weren’t adequately controlled or maintained. Now, you probably think that as a growing business, fire risk assessment is something you worry about at a later stage. But when you employ five or more people, you must keep a written record of your fire risk assessments.

A guide to fire risk assessments

If you want to ensure the safety of your employees, clients, and assets, participate in fire risk assessments. And to provide some perspective on how this process is approached here is a guide.

Establishing fire hazards

The first part of the process involves establishing all possible fire hazards. It requires three elements (oxygen, heat and fuel) for a fire to start and ultimately become a danger to everything and everyone around it.

So, when you find possible fire hazards (heaters, electrical wires and equipment, lighting, cigarettes), you have found the “ignition” of the fire. The second thing to look out for is “sources” that can fuel the flames and help it to spread. The third element that makes fire so dangerous comes in the form of oxygen. The more oxygen available to the fire, the stronger and longer it will burn.

Essentially, you want to do a detailed inspection of your business from front to back, and from the inside out. And during this inspection, everything that can cause a fire (either accidentally or through an employee) have to be noted as a possible point of ignition.

In cases where the business is based on manufacturing and production, the fire risks are significantly higher, especially if the products are flammable as well.

The next step

Just like health and safety risk assessments are updated on a regular basis, fire risks assessments should be handled with the same priority and urgency. In fact, many business owners like to handle all the assessments at once, then keep them all updated through regular inspections.

But the process doesn’t stop after the fire hazards have been established. Instead, the assessments that were made about these hazards need to be addressed. For example, if electrical wires are coming out of the wall and the points are not closed, something needs to be done immediately.

The same can be said about the condition of these possible hazards. When equipment like heaters are old, and they can easily get knocked over, it’s only a matter of time before they create a much more intense heat than before.

These hazards need to be controlled, and everyone in the building should be informed about how to react if a fire should break out.

Advice on how to stay safe

There are several things you can do and implement as a business owner regarding fire risk safety and preventing it from happening.

  • Regularly carry out a detailed fire risk assessment.
  • Promote mindfulness in the workplace regarding using equipment.
  • Keep fuel source (paper, wood, rubber, plastic) away from established fire hazards.
  • Install fire alarms and sprinkler systems.
  • Always have the necessary fire-fighting equipment on the premises and readily available.
  • Fire exits and escape routes should never be blocked off.
  • Train employees on how to react in case of a fire.

When it comes down to it, you want your employees to know how they should react to a fire, but it’s so much better to control the risk instead.

Because once you become aware of the areas and hazards that can potentially burn down your business, they become easier to control.

Fire risk assessment for a growing business

Why should a growing business pay so much attention to fire risk assessment? Because if you’re not producing anything, and you are not using flammable equipment, what type of risk can there possibly be?

It’s a legal requirement that employers must carry out a fire safety risk assessment and keep it up to date. Something as small as open electrical wires can start a massive and damaging fire. And as a growing business, can you afford to close down for several months due to fire damage and face pay hefty fines?

No, you can’t, like you shouldn’t avoid a proper and regular fire risk assessment. Because not only the success of your business is based on the precautions you take, you are responsible for the safety of your employees as well.