Conducting a Fire Risk Assessment

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by HSE Blogger

A fire risk assessment is a process involving the systematic evaluation of the factors that determine the hazard from fire, the likelihood that there will be a fire and the consequences if one were to occur. There are both qualitative and quantitative methods of risk assessment that can be used.

Steps of fire risk assessment

Following are the steps of fire risk assessment;

Step 1- Identifying the hazards

Knowledge of fire triangle can assist to identify the hazards for potential fire situation i.e,
Identify any source of ignition- such as flames or sparks from welding, cutting, grinding or use of hot air gun. 
Any Combustible fuels- such as paper, wood, cardboard, petrol, kerosin oil, thinner, methane gas etc.
Also, any unsafe procedures or acts- persons taking unsafe acts such as smoking next to combustible materials.
Any unsafe conditions-  These are the conditions that may assist the fire to spread in your work place. Such as bad Housekeeping, it is responsible for many small fires either starting or certainly spreading involving far more of the premises that was necessary. 

Step 2- Decide who could be harmed

Identify any staff or persons who are specially at risk and need to consider matters carefully if:
  • Sleeping accommodation is provided 
  • Persons are challenged e.g, physically, visually, mentally etc.
  • People are unable to react quickly- children, old.
  • A simple single line drawing of premises to scale can be helpful.

Step 3- Evaluate the risk-existing controls are adequate?

Having identification of hazards, need to reduce the chances of a fire by,
  • Removing hazards all together (Eliminate)
  • Reducing the hazard to the point where there is little to no risk or
  • Replacing the existing hazard with safer alternative (Substitute)
  • Segregating the hazard from workplace (Engineering controls)
  • Developing a fire safety policy and culture to ensure that fire hazard do not occur in workplace (Administrative controls).
Also evaluate, means of escape & emergency lightning are they adequate in size, number, location, well lit, unobstructed, safe to use.
- Fire fighting equipment-wall mounted fire extinguishers, suitable for type of fire and in sufficient numbers.
- Means for detecting and warning in case of fire, can it be heard by all occupants/employees.
- Training of employees- what to do in the event of fire.
- Alongside Classify the areas: Low risk, Normal risk, High risk.

Step 4- Record the findings and actions

Finding of assessment and actions should be recorded and must have to retain a recored of significant finding if having more than 5 employees, and should indicate:
  • Date the assessment was made
  • The hazards identified
  • Any staff or other people at risk
  • What action need to be taken and when
  • The conclusion arising from the assessment

Step 5- Review, revise and monitor

Fire risk assessment is not a one off procedure and should be continually monitored to ensure that existing fie safety arrangements and risk assessment remain realistic.
The assessment should be revived if there is a significant change in the work activity, in the materials used or stored or when any building works are proposed.