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Workplace Health and Safety Guide: Fire Risk Assessments

The Fire Risk Assessment Requirement

Employers in the United Kingdom are required by country-specific legislation to conduct fire risk assessments at their workplaces and premises. These fire risk assessments can be completed separately or in conjunction with the workplace health and safety risk assessment required under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations.

A fire risk assessment is necessary to ensure that fire safety measures, protection and training are in place for employees and visitors. Legislation governing the fire risk assessment requirement differs among the countries in the UK.

CountryRelevant Legislation or Regulations
England and WalesThe Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005
Northern IrelandThe Fire and Rescue Services (Northern Ireland) Order 2006 The Fire Safety Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2010
ScotlandThe Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 The Fire Safety (Scotland) Regulations 2006

For the majority of workplaces and premises, local fire and rescue authorities are responsible for enforcing the relevant legislation. All UK employers with five or more employees are required to keep a written record of their fire risk assessments; however, even if you have fewer than five employees, it is best practice to keep written records of your assessments.

How to Carry Out the Fire Risk Assessment

Although there is different legislation that creates the fire risk assessment requirement for countries in the UK, the principles are the same and will apply universally.

  1. Identify the fire hazards
    • Identify different ways in which a fire could start throughout the premises.
    • Inspect the workplace for sources of ignition, fuel and oxygen.
      • Ignition sources include heaters, lighting, naked flames, electrical equipment, cigarettes and anything else that can cause sparks or get very hot.
      • Fuel sources (things that can burn) include wood, paper, plastic, rubber, rubbish, furniture, petrol, paint, etc.
      • Oxygen sources include air conditioning, areas with increased air flow, and medicinal or commercial oxygen supplies.
  2. Identify the people at risk
    • Although everyone is at risk during a fire, identify whether the risk is greater for certain people based on:
      • The location of where they work on the premises.
      • Whether they work alone or in isolated areas.
      • Whether they work outside normal working hours.
      • Whether they are classified as an at-risk group, such as young and inexperienced workers, visitors, people with mobility or impairment issues, pregnant workers, etc.
  3. Evaluate, remove or reduce the risks
    • Evaluate the level of risks in the workplace and on the premises—including nearby buildings.
    • Try to remove the risk entirely. If this is not possible, decide how to reduce the risk.
      • Replace highly flammable materials with less flammable ones.
      • Separate flammable materials from sources of ignition.
    • Take action to protect the premises and your workers to ensure a reasonable level of safety.
  4. Record your findings, prepare an emergency plan and provide training
    • Keep records of any fire hazards and actions taken to remove or reduce them.
    • Develop, maintain and implement an appropriate emergency plan.
    • Train and instruct all staff on fire safety and emergency procedures.
  5. Review and update the fire risk assessment regularly
    • Review and update the fire risk assessment on a regular basis.
    • Keep up to date on changes, new equipment and procedures that could lead to new hazards.
    • If there have been any significant changes, inform and re-train staff on procedures.

When creating and carrying out the fire risk assessment, also consider the following:

  • Properly marked emergency routes and exits.
  • Fire detection and warning systems, including maintenance and testing requirements.
  • Fire fighting equipment such as extinguishers.
  • The removal or safe storage of dangerous substances.
  • Periodic fire drills.

For More Information and Sample Templates

England and Wales: www.gov.uk/workplace-fire-safety-your-responsibilities/fire-safety-advice-documents

Northern Ireland: https://www.nifrs.org/firesafe/downloads/Fire%20Risk%20Assessment%20Guidance%20Note.pdf

Scotland: www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/0040/00401803.pdf

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The content of this guide is of general interest only and not intended to apply to specific circumstances. It does not purport to be a comprehensive analysis of all matters relevant to its subject matter. It does not address all potential compliance issues with UK or any other regulations. The content should not, therefore, be regarded as constituting legal advice and not be relied upon as such. It should not be used, adopted or modified without competent legal advice or legal opinion. In relation to any particular problem which they may have, readers are advised to seek specific advice. Further, the law may have changed since first publication and the reader is cautioned accordingly. Design © 2013 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.

Contains public sector information published by the Health and Safety Executive and GOV.UK, and licensed under the Open Government Licence v1.0.

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