Risk Assessment Process

Risk Assessment - Overview  

PART 2 - FIRE SAFETY DUTIES - Risk Assessment - Article 9 paragraph (1) of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 states:-  

'The responsible person must make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to which relevant persons are exposed for the purpose of identifying the general fire precautions he needs to take to comply with the requirements and prohibitions imposed on him by or under this Order'  

Article 9 paragraph (6) then goes on to say:-  

'As soon as practicable after the assessment is made or reviewed, the responsible person must record the information prescribed by paragraph (7) where -  

(a) he employs five or more employees;
(b) a licence under an enactment is in force in relation to the premises; or
(c) an alterations notice requiring this is in force in relation to the premises.

(7) The prescribed information is -  

(a) the significant findings of the assessment , including the measures which have been or will be taken by the responsible person pursuant to this Order; and
(b) any group of persons identified by the assessment as being especially at risk.'  

The above requirements are legal obligations placed on the 'responsible person' who is defined in Article 3 of the Order as:-
In this Order "responsible person" means --
(a) in relation to a workplace, the employer, if the workplace is to any extent under his control;
(b) in relation to any premises not falling within paragraph (a) --
(i) the person who has control of the premises (as occupier or otherwise) in connection with the carrying on by him of a trade, business or other undertaking (for profit or not); or
(ii) the owner, where the person in control of the premises does not have control in connection with the carrying on by that person of a trade, business or other undertaking.  

Under the Order, anyone who has control of premises or anyone who has a degree of control over certain areas or systems may be a 'responsible person'. In such circumstances confirmation of application will need to be decided by a Court of law.  

How do You meet the Order?  

If you are the 'responsible person' you must carry out a fire risk assessment (as per Article 9 above). You may pass on this task to another competent person to complete, however you personally will still be responsible in law for meeting the legal requirements of the Order.  

It is the responsibility of the 'responsible person' to ensure that as far as is reasonably practical that everyone on the premises, or nearby, can escape safely if there is a fire.  

This requirement is different to previous legislation in that consideration must now be given to all persons who might be at the premises (e.g. employees, visitors, members of the public). Particular attention must be given to people who may have a disability or anyone who may need special help. The legislation also requires the 'responsible person' to manage any fire risk in their premises.  

Fire Authorities no longer issue fire certificates and any previously issued will have no legal status, however any existing certificates may still be useful as a starting point for carrying out the fire risk assessment.  

If your premises has been designed and built to modern-day building regulations (and are being used in line with those regulations) the structural fire precautions should be acceptable. You will still however be expected to carry out a fire risk assessment and make sure that all fire precautions and maintenance routines are maintained.

The Five Steps to Risk Assessment  

A fire risk assessment should help identify all the fire hazards at your premises. You will need to decide whether the risks posed by the identified hazards are acceptable, or whether you need to take additional steps to reduce or control those risks.  

There are five steps involved in the risk assessment process:-  

Step 1 - Identify fire hazards  

- identify sources of ignition, sources of fuel and sources of oxygen  

Step 2 - Identify people at risk  

- identify people in and around the premises and people who are especially at risk  

Step 3 - Evaluate, remove or reduce, and protect from risk  

- evaluate the risk of fire starting, evaluate the risk to people from a fire, remove or reduce fire hazards, remove or reduce the risk to people from a fire and protect people by providing fire precautions  

Step 4 - Record, plan, inform, instruct, and train  

- record any major findings and action you have taken, discuss and work with other responsible people, prepare an emergency plan, inform and instruct relevant people and provide training  

Step 5 - Review  

- Review your fire risk assessment regularly and make changes where necessary  

More information on how to carry out a risk assessment is available on the Government website which is accessible when you click here.

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