Fire Risk Assessment: Build a Successful Workplace Fire Safety Plan

Fire Risk Assessment: Build a Successful Workplace Fire Safety Plan

Fire risk assessments are a key component to complying with workplace fire safety regulations. Workplace fires can quickly escalate from sparks to flames in as little as 30 seconds, causing significant damage to people and organizations. A fire risk assessment and the resulting fire safety plan will help you ensure your compliance with workplace fire safety regulations, both in terms of prevention and response. 

Fire risks: a high cost for businesses

Based on the report “Total Cost of Fire in the United States” by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), which analyses the economic impact of fire, the total cost of fire in the United States in 2014 was $328.5 billion, equivalent to 1.9% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Additionally, NFPA states that an average of 3,340 office properties experience fires annually.

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Values (in billion $) and percentage shares of the components of the total cost of fire ($328.5 billion) in the U.S. in 2014. Source: NFPA

Also, OSHA (The Occupational Safety and Health Administration) states that workplace fires and explosions kill 200 and injure more than 5,000 workers each year. 

On the other hand, according to the UK Government, an average of 22,000 fires occur in workplaces annually, translating to a weekly occurrence of approximately 423 fires. 

They cost businesses more than $2.3 billion in property damage.

This data highlights the importance of implementing effective fire safety plans and measures in workplaces to ensure the safety and wellbeing of employees, the overall environment and to protect your business. 

Organizations can significantly reduce the risk of fires by prioritizing fire prevention, having a fire safety plan in place, conducting regular fire safety inspection, and having a coordinated and efficient fire risk assessment plan to identify possible fire risks and minimize the likelihood of a fire. 

See how to reduce workplace fire risk through efficient fire extinguisher inspections in this article: Fire Extinguisher Inspections: Ensuring Workplace Fire Safety 

What is a fire risk assessment?

A fire risk assessment is a process used to identify potential sources of fire and potential risks to people, property, and the environment. The assessment involves identifying fire hazards, evaluating the risks associated with those hazards, and taking steps to reduce or eliminate those risks. The goal of a fire risk assessment is to minimize the risk of a fire starting and the spread of the fire if it does occur. 

Whether you are a company based in the USA, Europe or other countries, fire safety checks and fire assessments are a legal requirement. In England and Wales the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRFSO) states that for workplaces with five or more employees, it is necessary to designate a responsible individual to conduct a fire risk assessment and to  ensure adequate fire safety measures are in place. But eventually, the responsibility for fire safety in business is yours if you are: 

  • the employer
  • the owner
  • or the person in charge of the  control of the premises, for example a facilities manager, building manager, managing agent or risk assessor

In the USA, Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa, China and other 50 countries the NFPAs fire codes and standards are voluntary. However, several states have implemented Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) regulations, which have integrated practices from NFPA standards, therefore compliance with these standards becomes mandatory.

Workplace Fire Safety Compliance: Prevention, Inspection and Response 

To guarantee workplace fire safety and compliance with the law, you can follow 3 highly-effective steps when creating a comprehensive fire risk assessment. This approach is a quick and efficient way to ensure the safety of your workplace and meet all legal requirements.

PREVENTION: To prevent workplace fires, identify and reduce potential hazards through a proper fire safety plan and prevention measures. These include: maintaining proper housekeeping/cleaning practices, regularly inspecting and maintaining electrical systems, enforcing strict smoking policy, and ensuring compliance with fire prevention and safety codes. Also, make sure to train employees and conduct regular drills to promote safety and preparedness.

Conducting a Monthly Fire Safety Inspections ensures readiness for emergencies and prevents incidents. Download the FREE Monthly Fire Safety Inspection checklist. 

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INSPECTIONS: Regular workplace fire inspections are crucial to ensure compliance with regulations. Trained professionals should assess fire suppression systems, emergency exits, fire alarms, and firefighting equipment availability and functionality. The outcome of these fire inspections can enhance fire safety measures and compliance with the regulations. 

Start with this FREE Fire Safety Inspection Checklist  

RESPONSE: Every organization must have a response plan in place for fires, even with prevention plans and audits. This includes a fire safety risk assessment, precise evacuation procedures, assembly points, identifying exits and paths, and appointing trained fire wardens for a secure evacuation.

Fire Safety Risk Assessment Step-By-Step 

Identify Fire Hazards

This includes carefully examining possible sources of ignition. You need to check out anything that could potentially spark a flame, like electronics or heating vents, and anything that could easily go up in flames, like garbage or chemicals. HSA states that fires are caused by three main elements: Heat – Oxygen – Fuel

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To prevent fires, you must eliminate at least one of these elements. In case that all three of these elements are present when the heat reaches a certain level, a fire can start and spread quickly. However,  ​a fire risk assessment should take into account all three elements. Here’s an example of what you should analyze to reduce fire risk:

Fire Safety Inspection Checklist  - GoAudits Image

Download this FREE Fire Hazard Inspection Checklist here

Identify people at risk

Identify individuals who may be at risk in the event of a fire. This includes: 

  • Employees
  • Customers 
  • Visitors
  • External Contractors (suppliers) 
  • Or any people who may be particularly vulnerable, such as the elderly, children, or disabled individuals.

Also, make sure to have an effective and quick evacuation plan to help people who may need extra help, like the elderly, children, or those with disabilities. Offer extra help like wheelchairs or special routes if needed. Make sure everyone knows the plan and practice it often. 

Here are a few examples of questions you can include in your fire risk assessment form for visitors:

  1. All visitors and contractors sign in the relevant log?
  2. All visitors and contractors made aware of fire safety procedures?
  3. In the event of a fire is a system in place to take account of visitors and contractors?
  4. Is there adequate lighting to facilitate movement towards the escape routes?
  5. Can all fire exits be opened immediately and easily?

Evaluate, Remove, or Reduce the Risks

Having identified the hazards and the people at risk, you should now evaluate how likely a fire could start and cause harm. Efforts should then be made to remove or reduce these risks, which could involve anything from stricter controls over flammable substances to the installation of appropriate fire detection systems.

Download this FREE Fire Safety Checklist

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Record your findings, prepare an emergency fire safety plan and provide training

Ensure that all findings and actions are properly recorded, and in case of failure, a clear plan of action is set out. This plan should include details on all preventative and protective measures. Ensure all staff members are properly trained on fire safety procedures.

Fire Safety Inspection Form - GoAudits Image

Review and update the fire risk assessment regularly

Finally, fire risk assessments should not be a one-off event but should be regularly reviewed and updated, particularly if there are significant changes to your business. Use this FREE Fire Risk Assessment Checklist.

Fire Safety Inspection Form - GoAudits Image

Implementing a Fire Safety Plan 

Once the fire risk assessment has been completed, it’s crucial to implement a fire safety plan. This plan should include:

  • Emergency Routes and Exits: Make sure they are well-marked and kept clear at all times.
  • Fire Detection and Warning Systems: Install appropriate fire detection systems and ensure they are regularly maintained.
  • Fire Fighting Equipment: Depending on the size and nature of your workplace, appropriate fire fighting equipment should be easily accessible.
  • Removal or Safe Storage of Dangerous Substances: Hazardous or flammable substances should be properly stored or removed from the workplace.
  • Emergency Fire Evacuation Plan: All staff members should be aware of what to do in the event of a fire.
  • Information and Training: Employees must be well-informed about the risks in your workplace, and how to respond in case of a fire. Regular fire drills are highly recommended.

Fire risk assessment software for workplace compliance

If your business has 5 or more individuals, it is required by law to have a documented fire risk assessment. It is important to stay updated on any changes and ensure that fire inspections are conducted as scheduled and that everyone is trained on emergency procedures for their safety. 

Failing to do so could put your employees at risk and result in costly consequences. Even if this is a non-negotiable step in your business, his process can take time and resources. However, with a with a fire risk assessment software you could simplify it by: 

  • Assigning inspections to the person in charge and scheduling them ahead of time
  • Taking quick action to identify and address potential risks at the location that are happening on the spot 
  • Capturing evidence on the go, by easily documenting your findings during a fire risk assessment 
  • Storing all data –  including a complete history of inspections and documents archived securely

With just one app, you can quickly upload or create any fire risk assessment form required for your business. GoAudits provides a vast library of free templates with a wide range of options for you to choose the specific fire risk assessment form that you need.

In this way, you make sure to update the fire risk assessment regularly by conducting fire inspections and keeping records of any changes. This will help ensure all the necessary steps have been taken and that the business is complying with the law. Also, in emergency situations, it serves as evidence as well.

Why is GoAudits the best fire risk assessment software for your business? 

Choose the best fire risk assessment software to help you with this process, without paperwork and heavy admin workload. Our comprehensive fire safety software helps you automate many of the manual tasks involved in the fire inspection process

  • easier data collection in the field with smart forms
  • instant reporting to share audit information quickly, pinpointing every non-conformances or highlighting  critical  non-conformances
  • smart dashboards for real-time analysis
  • corrective actions that can be assigned to specific team members, internally or externally
  • vast library of audit checklist templates which can be customized, to get started as quickly as possible.

Both your company and the external auditors will be able to access up-to-date information about the performance of your inspections and audits at any time. GoAudits has also been featured by Capterra as one of the highest-rated and most popular software solutions on the market in 2023. Discover more about fire safety  inspections with GoAudits here.

Free Workplace Fire Safety Checklists

You can start your fire risk assessments immediately, simply check out the FREE Workplace Fire Safety Checklists from the GoAudits checklist library: 

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