Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Reducing Fire Risks

Reducing fire risks is a major concern for all business owners as the possible repercussions to any owner of a fire are manifold. The possible loss of his business and livelihood has to be considered, but any injuries or deaths arising from any incompetence could lead to a loss of his freedom in the form of a prison sentence. Therefore the importance of reducing fire risks and ensuring that a full fire risk assessment is carried out cannot be underestimated.

Once identified, workplace fire risks must be removed or, if they cannot be removed altogether, reduced as far as reasonably practicable. By evaluating the three elements that need to be in place for a fire to start (fuel, oxygen and a source of ignition) is the first place to look. There are a number of ways in which hazards can be reduced.

These include;

1) Replacing highly flammable materials with less flammable ones. 2) Reducing stocks of flammable materials, liquids and gases to a minimum. 3) Storing highly-flammable substances in fire resistant stores or dedicated areas where only appropriate staff can access them. 4) Separating flammable materials from sources of ignition eg by maintaining clear space between lighting and combustible materials. 5) Ensuring electrical, mechanical and gas equipment is installed, used, maintained and protected in accordance with manufacturer's instructions. 6) Replacing naked flame and radiant heaters with fixed convector heaters. 7) Ensuring that when equipment is not is use it is left in a safe condition. 8) Dedicated smoking areas. 9) Implementing a "hot" work permit system to control fire risks from "hot" work activities such as welding. 10) Ensuring combustible waste does not build up and is properly stored before disposal. 11) Taking precautions to prevent arson.

Once a business owner has removed or reduced any fire hazards as far as possible. It must be decided what further measures are required to provide a reasonable level of fire safety. This means ensuring that adequate fire precautions are in place to warn people in the event of a fire and allow them to safely escape.

The level of fire protection should be proportionate to the risk posed to people in the building but the objective should always be to reduce the remaining level to as low as is reasonably practicable. As a result fire safety law allows the responsible person to decide which prevention and protection measures, equipment and procedures are most appropriate in light of the risks on site. Business owners should therefore use the results of their fire risk assessment to identify what is appropriate.

Nigel J Welford is a qualified Health & Safety professional and believes in making health and safety as simple as possible whilst still being effective and meeting all the regulations. For his free report "The Secret To How Health & Safety Can Improve Your Business And Profits: 7 Everyday Pitfalls To Avoid" from

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