As a small business owner, do I need to carry out a fire risk assessment?

May 17th, 2019
Do i need to carry out a fire risk assessment?

The short answer is yes, whether you run a shop, office, restaurant, warehouse or any other type of business you are legally required to carry out fire risk assessments with the guidance of the “Fire Safety in the Workplace” issued by the government.  If there are less than 5 regular occupants in the building, or you are not licenced, you are not required to have the assessment written down, however we would always recommend you do as it is the simplest way to communicate the findings and demonstrate, if required, that you are assessing the fire risk at your premises.

Identifying where risks of a fire exist in your business and having a plan in place to minimise the risk not only allows you to meet your legal requirements, it also minimises the chance of interruption to your business and avoids a potentially fatal injury to your employees or members of the public.

Here we will look at the 5 key steps you must follow, and include in your fire risk assessment:

Step 1 – Fire hazards –
The initial step of the fire risk assessment is to identify any fire hazards in your premises.  This will include looking at how a fire could start, such as heaters, naked flames, electrical equipment or any processes the business carries out that may increase the risk of a fire.  You should also consider what could burn, from waste, to cardboard, to any flammable stock you may hold.

Step 2 – People at risk
Identify who is at risk, which essentially will be everyone, but some people may have a greater exposure due to their role, where they work or even when they work.  You should consider the risk to visitors who are unfamiliar with the premises, especially children, the elderly or disabled people.

Step 3 – Evaluate, and act
Now you have completed steps 1 and 2 it is important to evaluate the risks you have identified and take action to reduce, remove or manage those risks.

Step 4 – Record, plan and train
As mentioned above, if you have 5 or more members of staff or have a licence you must keep a written record of the assessment, including the risks you have identified and what has been done to reduce the risk.  There should then be a plan to keep people safe in the event of a fire, and this should be discussed with all members of staff, so they know what to do, and who is responsible for what.

Step 5 – Review
You should review your fire assessment on a regular basis; over time the risks may change.  If you do identify changes in risk or make any significant changes to your plan you need to ensure everyone is aware of the changes and where appropriate retrain staff.

This article is intended to give some guidance and a good starting point for any business, you may find you are required to include additional information, especially if you have a larger or complex premise, or your trade greatly increases the risk of fire at your premises.  For further information visit – Fire Safety in the Work Place

Managing risk has an important role in any business and having the right business insurance protection in place will be crucial if the worst was to happen.  For assistance with your business insurance you can speak to a member of our team who will be happy to help, contact us on 0800 731 2940.