Reviewing and Monitoring a Fire Risk Assessment
The contents of a fire risk assessment can provide a great deal of information on the current state of an organisation's fire safety provisions and what needs to be changed or implemented in order to reduce the risks of a fire either starting and/or spreading, which could then pose a serious danger to the health and safety of those inside or near the premises.
The downside of fire risk assessments, much like the financial balance sheet of a company, is that they provide information at a particular point in time but will become more and more out of date as time goes on. And although an incorrect balance sheet can be misleading, an incorrect fire risk assessment can prove to be potentially deadly if it places workers, site visitors or members of the public at risk.
Fire risk assessments therefore need to be monitored and reviewed regularly even if there are no significant changes in the place of work. However, if there are changes, then a new and updated fire risk assessment may need to be performed in order to take into account these changes, as the information contained in the previous assessment may now be misleading and place people in danger rather than helping to prevent risks to health.
These changes will include:
A significant alteration to the layout of the site. For example, the emergency exits have been moved due to an extension to the building or a change in the layout of the working space.
A significant change to the processes used on site. The introduction of new robotic equipment or machinery could pose a danger from fire if it they not maintained properly or located next to a flammable source of fuel which could ignite and cause a fire.
A change in chemicals or substances used/produced. A change from one chemical to a more flammable or volatile substance in the work process can increase the chances of a fire starting. Similarly, altering a process so that it produces more flammable dust for example increases the risk from flash fires and explosions (Related Page: COSHH information).
Changes to the people on site. This can be either the number or type of people. For example, a significant increase in the number of workers on the premises (e.g. taking on many temporary Christmas staff) can create a fire hazard such as increasing the time taken to evacuate the building or the outside assembly area now being too small to accommodate everyone. In terms of the type, this usually means an increase in members of the public who will now need to be made aware of the fire safety provisions unlike workers who should have received suitable fire safety training as part of their programme of health and safety courses. An example of this is if the company opens up a factory shop or tours of the site.
A fire risk assessment may also need to be performed in the event of a fire occurring, even if it is just a small one. Whilst it is impossible to completely reduce the chances of a fire starting down to zero, it may be the case that the existing controls and precautionary measures are not sufficient and need to be revised to try and stop it from happening again, especially as the next time could be much more serious than this one.