Using a checklist to carry out a fire risk assessment is a sensible approach, as there are set steps you need to take in order to carry out the procedure properly. This article provides a basic outline of these steps, and can be used as a checklist for the fire risk assessment process. More detailed guidance is available free of charge online, but the following outlines all the main stages.
The first stage in the process is to identify any possible fire hazards in your workplace. This means undertaking a thorough inspection of all areas of your premises and checking to see what could possibly lead to a fire in certain circumstances. To do this you need to think about what it would take for a fire to start, and what materials you have on your premises that are likely to burn well.
If you have any smoking areas, think about possible smouldering materials. If your workplace uses any equipment with naked flames, or which produce sparks, there is an obvious risk involved there. Any type of heater should be considered, as should any electrical equipment. A huge proportion of fires are started by faulty electrical equipment. Storage cupboards full of paperwork or piles of empty cardboard boxes stacked against an outside wall are classic examples of potential hazards, providing plenty of fuel if a fire does start.
Next you need to think about who in your workplace will be at risk if any of the hazards you have identified should result in a fire. This obviously includes all your employees, but do not forget people in your building who may not be employees. Remember contract staff or visiting contactors undertaking maintenance works, and do not forget any visitors or members of the public who enter your building, however infrequently. Also think about your own staff who may work in particularly isolated areas of your premises, and anyone who may have more difficulty than most in either getting out of the building, hearing the alarms or understanding what is going on. In particular, consider disabled people, children or foreign nationals.
The third stage on your checklist is to evaluate the risks you have come up with so far. Look at the hazards you have found and the people who are at risk and think about what steps you can take to reduce the chances of any of these hazards actually resulting in a fire. Then think about what would happen if they did result in a fire and what you could do to help protect the people you have identified. You need to have a plan of actions you will take to either reduce each risk to an acceptable level, or preferably get rid of it altogether.
The fourth stage on your fire risk assessment checklist is to record the details of what you have found. You have to do this by law if you employ five or more staff, but it is good practice anyway. The easiest way to do this is to use a fire risk assessment form, which you can download from the internet free of charge.
The final stage, which sometimes gets forgotten, is to review your fire risk assessment at regular intervals. This is important because circumstances change and when this happens the risks change to. If you are unsure about how often to review your fire risk assessment, a good starting point is to do it on an annual basis, and whenever something changes about your workplace (such as new equipment, materials or practices).
If you do not feel confident enough about your own experience to carry out a fire risk assessment, there are many fire consultants available who will undertake such work on your behalf.